In many of the old city districts of Tallinn, houses are still not connected to the city's water and sewage network. The wastewater is collected in private septic tanks, and then transported by car to collection points.
The use of septic tanks, with regular draining and cleaning, is as inconvenient for the users as it is hazardous for the environment, because of the risks of leakage or spills. Thus, as one might expect, there are many happy homeowners in the city now that Tallinna Vesi is expanding their water and wastewater network to reach some 3,500 new households.
Working for the residents' convenience
Many of the streets in the areas now under construction, such as Nõmme, Kristiine and Pirita, are narrow and winding, which adds some challenges to the work. Meelis Raidmaa, Construction Services Manager at Tallinna Vesi, says that the company tries to take the comfort of the residents into consideration while digging up the streets:
"In difficult places, with a lot of traffic, for example, we are using a drilling method where we only dig small holes and then drill the pipe underground from one hole to another. Then we don't have to destroy whole streets for the length of the pipes while the construction is underway."
"We also try to arrange temporary, supervised parking lots for the homeowners involved and to make sure that everyone can move freely to and from their properties," he adds.
A total of 100 kilometres of new sewage pipes are being laid down, and additionally some 30 kilometres of storm water pipes and 10 kilometres of water pipes. The network extension project started in 2007 and more than one third of the new pipes have now been laid down.
The new pipes will connect houses to the city's sewage treatment plant in Paljassaare and to the Ülemiste water treatment plant. Most of the city's drinking water is pumped from Lake Ülemiste, close to the Tallinn Airport, and processed in the plant.
The project, which will be completed in 2011, is part of a service agreement signed between the City of Tallinn and Tallinna Vesi.
Financing with a loan from NIB
NIB has participated in the financing of the project with a loan of EUR 20 million to Tallinna Vesi. Its CEO, Ian Plenderleith, sees the financial cooperation with NIB as important for the company:
"NIB was able to offer us financing over a longer time period than other lenders would have done. The financing package we agreed on is very suitable, and matches our cash outflows and inflows. And, of course, NIB is a secure lender, which at this point in time is a great benefit to us as a company."
Lars Selenius, Senior Director at NIB, points out that the project is in line with the Bank's mandates—competitiveness and the environment:
"A reliable supply of high-quality drinking water is essential for health and wellbeing in a modern, competitive city. So is high-quality sewage treatment, which is also essential from an environmental point of view. Tallinna Vesi's investment is well in line with NIB's focus areas and we are happy to arrange financing for the project."
According to Mr Plenderleith, the project brings significant environmental benefits to the city, but also direct financial benefits to the clients:
"The current system with septic tanks is approximately two and a half times more expensive for the homeowners than it will be having the sewage treated by us."
"And as a homeowner in Tallinn myself, I'm looking forward to the new sewage pipes reaching my own property—making the daily life here so much easier for me and my family, as it will for some ten thousand other residents of Tallinn," Mr Plenderleith concludes.
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