The overloading of Bahrain’s wastewater sector has become a critical problem for Manama in recent years. Existing sewage treatment plants have become so overloaded that untreated effluent is regularly being discharged into the sea, potentially leading to numerous environmental and health risks.

The commissioning of the 100,000 cubic-metre-a-day (cm/d) Muharraq sewage plant in June 2014, Bahrain’s first build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) project, helped to alleviate the problem, but did not solve it.

Progress with the Tubli sewage treatment plant expansion and other planned projects, such as the Al-Madina al-Shamaliya sewage project, are vital if Manama is to deal with the country’s overloaded sewage infrastructure.

Many planned projects in Bahrain have been shelved or cancelled since, firstly, the financial downturn, and then the political protests which have blighted the country since 2011. The economic and political issues have reduced Manama’s capacity to fund important infrastructure schemes.

The depth of government coffers are being further reduced by the drop in oil prices, and concerns have increased over the future of many long-stalled projects.

However, prospects for planned sewage and wastewater schemes are much brighter due to pledged support from GCC neighbours.

The Tubli project, which has been in the pipeline for several years, will be financed by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which means that Manama should now be able to press ahead with the tendering and award of the construction contract.

The support from its neighbours will allow Manama to address an issue that will continue to cause health and economic problems until it is adequately addressed. Now the finance has been made available, the government must ensure it moves swiftly to begin tackling the country’s sewage crisis.

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