SHUKALB Prepares and Delivers Successfully Workshop on “Management of Wastewater in the Context of a Circular Economy”

Elisabeta Poçi, Executive Director of SHUKALB during the opening of the first day of the workshop
Photo Credit: SHUKALB

During 18-19 July 2022, SHUKALB and Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) successfully organized the 2-day workshop on “Wastewater Management in the Context of the Circular Economy”. The workshop was prepared and delivered by SHUKALB in teh framework of the SEE NEXUS Project, financed by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and implemented by GWP-Med in partnership with UNECE.  The workshop was greeted in the opening by Arduen Karagjozi, Director of Strategic Management, the Water Resources Management Agency, and Tassos Krommydas, Senior Program Officer, GWP-Med.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the Water Supply and Sewerage Companies of Pogradec, Shkoder, Korçe, Kukes; Municipality of Tirana; the National Agency for Water Supply, Sewerage and Waste Infrastructure (AKUM); the Water Regulatory Authority (ERRU); the Water Resources Management Agency (AMBU); National Environment Agency (AKM); Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) and SHUKALB.

Prof. Enkelejda Gjinali, Lecturer at the Department of Environmental Engineering, Polytechnic University of Tirana (standing) during her presentation of the Module 1. What is the Circular Economy? On the 1st day of the training
Photo Credit: SHUKALB

The workshop was conducted by Elisabeta Poçi, Executive Director of SHUKALB, Prof. Enkelejda Gjinali, Department of Environmental Engineering, Polytechnic University of Tirana, and Arbana Kola, Project Manager, SHUKALB.

The objective of the workshop was to increase the capacities of the representatives of the different stakeholders in the water sector in Albania with regards to the circular economy in relation to wastewater management, and in the context of the environmental acquis communautaire of the European Union (EU).

Arbana Kola, Project Manager, SHUKALB during her presentation on Module 2: Legal and policy framework
Photo Credit: SHUKALB

During the two days of the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to learn about the general principles of the Circular Economy (CE) and how the proper management of wastewater contributes to CE. In addition, they were introduced to the legal frameworks and international and national policies in support of CE and the value of business in a CE. The workshop presented many cases and examples of CE in practice, from developed countries as well as initiatives in Albania. During the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to discuss and share information with each other, and engage interactively during group work.

In addition, as part of the workshop’s agenda, on the second day, a study visit was conducted to the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WTP) in Durres, where the participants were introduced to the WTP and its equipment and got acquainted with the operation and maintenance procedures, as well as with the aspects of energy recovery through the processes of sludge digestion.

At the end of the workshop, the participants received certificates of attendance.

Participants at the closure of “Management of Wastewater in the Context of a Circular Economy” workshop
Photo Credit: SHUKALB

The topic of Circular Economy in general and the CE in wastewater management are still very new in Albania.  Wastewater treatment itself is considered to be still at a relatively early stage, with the first WWTP staring operation in 2006, and today Albania has 13 WWTPs, serving to around 13 % of the population.  For the largest part of these WWTP, the treated effluent is simply discharged in the receiving water bodies, as a final result of a long process of treatment that has consumed a lot of energy and chemicals. On the other hand, the sludge that is produced as a by-product of the treatment process is seen as a “problem to deal with”, rather than a source of nutrients. Speaking about the affordability of WWTP, cost recovery from tariffs is very low, and almost insignificant when considering the costs, mainly electrical energy, for treatment.  However, on the positive side, there are few good examples that have started to integrate concepts of CE as part of their wastewater management.  Korca Water and Wastewater Utility has been distributing the sludge from the WWTP to the local farmers, while at the same time is using photovoltaics to produce electrical energy that is used to cover almost 100% the needs of the WWTP.  Another example is the WWTP of Durres, which is the only WWTP in Albania with a technology that produces biogas, which can be used for producing electrical energy. Looking ahead into the future, Albania has still a long journey with planning and designing its future WWTPs.  It is the right time and moment to make sure that the future WWTPs are designed in a way that they not only address the environment protection through wastewater treatment, but create value at the end of the process, through capturing nutrients, while at the same time lowering their energy and carbon footprint by integrating renewable energies.

This workshop was the first of its kind that SHUKALB has organized, and probably the first one organized for the water sector in Albania.  Considering also the positive feedback received from the participants, and the high relevance of this topic for Albania, SHUKALB is committed to continuing its efforts in capacitating the professionals of the water sector in Albania with knowledge and skills on CE, for a better integration of CE principles in the policy, regulation, as well as operational aspects of the water and wastewater sector.