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The EU Court Of Justice Deals A Severe Blow To Janković’s Sewerage System

The Court finds that the sewerage system being built by the Mayor of Ljubljana through a protected water catchment area is contrary to European law. The European Commission has already launched a case in this regard in 2017. The Court’s ruling is now clear. The urban wastewater collection system is inadequate. However, this does not mean that the project is cancelled. The breaches will be remedied as part of the project, which includes the environmentally controversial C0 sewerage pipe. The question now is how the Municipality of Ljubljana will respond to the proven breaches of EU law.

The Ljubljana City Councillor Aleš Primc has already responded to the ruling, writing on X: “The judgement requires the elimination of the negative environmental impacts of the sewerage system. The C0 sewerage pipe does not reduce, but increases the negative environmental impacts, as it directly threatens 90% of Ljubljana’s drinking water.”

Specifically, Slovenia has failed to meet the requirements of the European Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. Ljubljana has failed to ensure that urban wastewater entering the sewerage system is not first treated in a secondary treatment process or any other comparable process. It also failed to ensure that discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants are properly monitored, the Slovenian Press Agency reports.

Under the directive, member states will have to ensure that urban agglomerations properly collect and treat their wastewater. According to the European Commission, there are still four agglomerations in Slovenia with more than 100,000 inhabitants that do not meet the requirements. In addition to Ljubljana, these are Trbovlje, Kočevje and Tržič. In Kočevje, Tržič and Ptuj, the Commission has asked the Court for other solutions.

However, the Court only found that the action was justified in the case of Ljubljana. We sent press questions to the Municipality of Ljubljana about the ruling, as we wanted to know how Janković will proceed in the future.

Janković will apparently continue with the construction

The violations will be corrected under the Wastewater Disposal and Treatment project. Recall that the controversial C0 pipe, which runs through the Ljubljana – Polje water catchment area, is also part of this project. This was not completed on time. The 111-million-euro project, which was co-financed with European funds, should have been completed in 2021.

A part of the project called the C0 pipe, has caused some complications. It has become known among the citizens of Ljubljana and beyond as the “shit pipeline”. It connects the two sewerage systems of Medvode and Vodice to the central sewerage treatment plant in Ljubljana. Construction has been complicated by environmental concerns and opposition from the owners of the agricultural land through which the structure passes. Critics of the project point out that there is a risk of building sewerage systems through an area from which the entire population of Ljubljana is supplied with drinking water. They also point to the inadequate construction standards. This was proven to be the case during the last major floods in Slovenia, after which photographs of damaged sewer constructions appeared on the internet.

In addition to all this, it should be noted that the Municipality of Ljubljana has not obtained all the necessary construction permits. In view of these violations and the danger posed to nature and people by the construction of the sewer across the aquifer, a parliamentary commission of inquiry has been set up in the National Assembly, headed by an MP from the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), Anja Bah Žibert.

Unfortunately, the project is also accompanied by violence from the authorities. When the landowners tried to prevent the construction from continuing, they were attacked by the Ljubljana police.

However, regular protests, organised by the Ljubljana City Councillor Aleš Primc, are taking place in front of the Ljubljana City Hall in the centre of Ljubljana, where those gathered regularly protest the construction of the controversial sewerage system.

Criminal charges against Janković and others

Recently, however, Janković and some other mayors have been criminally charged by Miha Jazbinšek and Jasminka Dedić over this very issue. “The foundation of this case is as follows: in 2011, a contract was signed between the three mayors, which then normalised all the adventures from that point onwards. Everybody thinks that things are settled in the political arena. But the first corruption point of departure is the water consent of 2013,” he said. He also announced criminal charges against some responsible officials in ministries.

Ž. K.

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