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Addressing Wastewater Management in the Drin Basin

Wastewater management is unsatisfactory in the Drin Basin (except for the Lake Ohrid sub-basin) by EU Urban Wastewater Treatment (UWWT) Directive standards. 

The GEF Drin project tested replicable solutions to address wastewater management in the Drin basin.

  • The Wastewater Management Decision Support Tool is tailored to the conditions of the Drin basin and was developed and tested through a pilot activity. Find out more here
  • The use of Constructed Wetland was tested in the village of Kramovik as a nature based solution. Find out more here.  

Pollution from Urban Wastewater 

The Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis developed through the GEF Drin Project analysed the pollution pressures, using source apportionment approaches. The TN emissions in the Drin Basin were estimated to be 6,708 tonne/year while the TP emissions were approximately 761.6 tonne/year in the period for 2011–2012.

Total phosphorus (tonne/year)


Total nitrogen (tonne/year)


The TDA provides that nutrient emission through untreated wastewater contributes with 30 percent of total nutrient pollution in Drin Basin. Wastewater collection (sewerage) systems are mainly located in urban areas. In most cases, the collection system is combined (sewage and storm water). The systems do not function efficiently due to the lack of investment, inappropriate management and limited coverage. Less than half (46 percent) of the estimated generated wastewater load is collected through centralized sewerage networks. Estimates done in the framework of the development of the GEF Drin Project’s Thematic Report on Pollution and Water Quality suggest that 108 >2,000 population equivalent settlements generate 63 percent of the estimated load and 1,320 <2,000 population equivalent settlements (rural areas) generate the remaining 37 percent. In total, 33 main sewerage system outlets were identified, of which wastewater from only 12 sewage networks have some treatment. The remaining 21 networks discharge untreated wastewater mainly into the rivers.As for the collected wastewater, the percentage of the population in urban agglomerations (settlements >2000 population equivalent) served by treatment plants is 25.6 percent.

The UWWT Directive requires provision of secondary treatment for all agglomerations larger than 2,000 population equivalent that are discharging wastewaters directly into fresh water. In the Drin Basin, 17 out of 108 agglomerations are served by 11 wastewater treatment plants (nine of which have secondary treatment capabilities and two of which have primary treatment only). The locations of the basin wastewater treatment work (and outlets) along with the BOD discharged and an overview of wastewater management are shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2.

Wastewater treatment plants, outlets (recorded) and BOD discharge in the Drin Basin

 Overall management of wastewater in the Drin Basin (per sub-basin) 

  Wastewater – discharged loads from point sources per sub-basin (tonne/year)


The discharged load from the collected wastewater in the Drin Basin has been estimated to be BOD: 13,109 tonnes/year; COD: 21,384 tonnes/year; TN: 2,006 tonnes/year, and TP: 265 tonnes/year.The biggest pollution load from the collected wastewater (in terms of BOD5) is discharged in the White Drin River sub-basin, with Lake Skadar/Shkodër sub-basin ranking second, and the Black Drin River sub-basin ranking third. The BODdischarged loads in the rest of the sub-basins are relatively minor.

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