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Water Security in Bulgaria

September 18-19, 2017

Grand Hotel Sofia, Bulgaria


The World Bank, in coordination with the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ministry of Economy, and the State Agency for Metrological and Technical Surveillance, is organizing the “Water Security in Bulgaria” workshop, to be held on September 18-19. 

  • In recent years, the issue of water security has been gaining traction in the global political agenda and earning attention from national governments at the highest level. Water security offers opportunities for cooperation, collaboration, and for addressing challenges in a multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral way, to manage continued, sustainable development and growth.

    Framing the water challenge in terms of water security suggests a dynamic construct that goes beyond single-issues, such as access to water or sanitation, and requires us to think more broadly about achievements with respect to water management.

    For instance, in terms of water allocation, water security recognizes that there is not one temporal ‘optimal’ water allocation between multiple users. Any optimal allocation scenario is dynamic; the share of water allocated to a certain user may shift depending on changing environmental and socio-economic conditions. Achieving water security is a dynamic goal and the context for achievement is a constantly evolving world.


    Despite the wealth of water resources, favorable soil and climatic conditions, and a strong institutional and regulatory framework, Bulgaria continues to face considerable challenges in the modernization of its water infrastructure and in the ability of its responsible institutions to meet development goals. Achieving appropriate levels of water security requires safeguarding sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable-quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development; for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters; and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.

    Effective implementation of concepts like integrated water resources management and integrated risk management of floods and droughts are essential in the process of adapting to the increased hydrological variability caused by climate change.

    Adequate institutional capacity requires good information, competent institutions, and considerable financial resources. This is a challenge common to every country – how to effectively coordinate between different institutions and speak in one voice.

    In the face of climate change, we believe that Bulgaria needs to increase the preparedness of its water sector to moderate the impact of recurrent floods and droughts and, at the same time, meet the needs of both the population and the demands of key economic sectors like agriculture, urban development, energy, and natural ecosystems.

    Most dams in Bulgaria were built between 1956 and 1985. During the transition period that followed, all construction projects were abandoned - leaving thousands of Bulgarians without a reliable water supply. Although almost all Bulgarians have access to drinking water in their homes, a significant number of people still suffer seasonal water rationing owing to uncompleted dam projects.

    These problems are compounded by the fact that many water networks now need to be upgraded and wastewater collection and treatment systems extended. Therefore, significant investments are needed to ensure that water quality and sustainable use of water resources comply with the requirements of relevant European Union (EU) directives.

    Bulgaria is trying to achieve progress and advance this important agenda, but still more efforts are needed, including increased ownership and strengthened leadership in the area of water management and security.

    World Bank engagement in the water sector in Bulgaria

    The World Bank Group (WBG) - the largest multilateral source of financing for water supply and sanitation (WSS) in the world - currently supervises a WSS lending portfolio of approximately $13.5 billion, which represents more than half of all its water-related operations.

    The World Bank has a long and fruitful partnership with the Government of Bulgaria. The World Bank currently supports the sustainability of water resources through an ongoing lending operation and past support strategy development in: (i) Water Supply and Sanitation and (ii) Irrigation, drainage and flood protection.

    According to the new 10-year strategy for the sector, rehabilitation and construction of water supply and sewerage networks will require BGN 12 billion (€6 billion). However, EU funds will cover only 30–40% of the total capital investments needed until 2020. The rest should come from the national budget and the WSS utilities. This requires improved efficiency and adjusted pricing to ensure that financing for the water sector is affordable and sustainable.

    The World Bank-supported Municipal Infrastructure Development Project responds to the government’s priorities of rehabilitating and completing construction of water supply and sewerage networks to improve service delivery and reduce health risks, as well as wastewater treatment systems in line with EU directives.

    Two of the eight priority water supply dams (Luda Yana and Plovdivtsi) are included in this project, and a third (Studena) is included for rehabilitation. Upon completion of this project, it is expected that 170,000 more Bulgarians will benefit from a reliable and quality water supply.

  • Download Agenda (PDF) 

    Sept 18

    08.00 - 09.00


    09.00 - 09.30


    Opening session – H.E. Nikolay Nankov, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Atanaska Nikolova, DM of Environment, David Michaud, Practice Manager, ECA Region, Tony Thompson, Country Manager


    09.30 - 11.00

    Water Security in Eastern Europe

    Coordinator                               Javier Zuleta, WB

    Key note speaker                       Richard Muller, Regional Director of GWP

    Panel member                           Dimitar Kislyakov, Member of Bulgarian Committee

                                                      of Large Dams

    Panel member                           Anil Mishra, UNESCO, Programme Specialist,                                           

                                                      Section on Hydrological   Systems and Water  


    Panel member                           Maria Babukchieva, Head River Basin Department,



    Coffee break


    11.15 - 12.45

    Bulgaria’s Vulnerability to Climate-Related Water Risks

    Coordinator                             Eolina Milova, World Bank

    Panel member                         Rozalina Kozleva, World Bank Consultant,

                                                    Environment and Water

    Panel member                         José Angel Rodriguez Cabellos, Guadiana River

                                                    Basin Authority

    Panel member                         Boryana Kamenova, Director Climate Change Policy


    Panel member                         Rozalina Kozleva, World Bank Consultant, Water

                                                    and Climate Change

    Panel member                         Wilfried Hundertmark, World Bank

    12:45 - 13:45



    13.45 - 15.15

    Water Security and WSS: Compliance with UWWTD (and WFD)

    Coordinator                              Philippe Marin, WB

    Key note speaker                      Bruno Rakedjian, Ministry of Environment,


    Panel member                          Nikos Neocleous, Deputy Director,

                                                     Water Development Department, Cyprus

    Panel member                          Ivanka Videnova, Director WSS Directorate,


    Panel member                          Boryana Georgieva, Expert, Water Management

                                                     Department, MoEW

    Panel member                          Diogo Faria de Oliveira, Portuguese Government

    15.15 – 15.30

    Coffee break


    15.30 – 17.00

    Managing Water Risks in Bulgaria’s Agriculture

    Coordinator                              Hans Christoph Kordik, WB

    Key note speaker                      Melvyn Kay, Irrigation Association, UK

    Panel member                          Wilfried Hundertmark, Sr Water Resource Specialist

    Panel member                          Dr Sonya Simeonova, Rural Dev. Program

                                                     Department, MAFF

    Panel member                          Dr Zornitsa Popova, BAS

    Panel member                          Dimitar Mladenov, MAFF

    Panel member                          Tanya Dabnishka, Director BAAP


    Sep 19


    09.00 - 10.30 am


    Regulatory and Institutional Aspects of Dam Safety

    Coordinator                             Orlin Dikov, WB

    Key note speaker                     Adrian Morales, Polytechnic of Valencia, Spain

    International panel member    Nikos Neocleous, Deputy Director Water Resources

                                                    Department, Cyprus

    Panel member                         Kiril Voynov, SAMTS

    Panel member                         Satoru Ueda, Lead dam specialist, WB

    Panel member                         Ekaterina Boneva, Power production, NEC


    10.30 – 10.50 

    Coffee break


    10.50 - 12.30


    Rehabilitation of Dams: Financial Instruments, O&M and Sustainability

    Coordinator                         Javier Zuleta, WB

    Key note speaker                 Alessandro Palmieri, WB

    Panel member                     Karen Grigoryan, Armenia

    Infrastructure finance          Nicola Saporiti - IFC

    Panel member                     Greg Paxson, Dam Expert, USA

    Panel member                     Rumen Stoykov, Dams and Cascades

    12.30 – 14.00 



    14.00 - 15.30



    Large Infrastructure and Dam’s Rehabilitation and Recent Experiences in Bulgaria

    Coordinator                         Toma Yanakiev, WB

    Key note speaker                 Greg Paxson, USA

    Panel member                     Adrian Morales, Valencia Polytechnic, Spain

    Panel member                     Ivanka Videnova, Director WSS Directorate

    Panel member                     Mr. Arjan Jovani, Director of Dam Safety, Albania


    15.30 – 15.50 

    Coffee break


    15.50 - 17.30



    Water security in practice – World Bank technical assistance to municipalities in Bulgaria

    Coordinator                           Orlin Dikov, WB

    Key note speaker                   Wilfried Hundertmark, WB

    World Bank panel member   Angel Zahariev, Dam Engineer

    Municipal authorities             eng. Daniela Micheva, Head of Directorate, PernikMunicipality

     Municipal authorities            Nikola Belishki, Mayor of Panagiurishte Municipality


    17.30 – 18.00

    Closing remarks