A meeting of Sofia city council on January 28 overwhelmingly approved a rescue plan proposed by the Bulgarian government intended to address the water shortage crisis in the town of Pernik, about 26km from the capital city.
The city council has 61 members. Fifty-six voted to approve the plan and there was one abstention.
The government’s proposal is to supply Pernik, which has been subject to severe water restrictions for more than two months, with water from Belmeken Dam, via Beli Iskar Dam and Sofia’s water supply network.
To make the project possible, a 13.5km pipeline will be built to link Malo Buchino to Moshino.
Pernik mayor Stanislav Vladimirov, who attended the Sofia city council meeting, said that the plan was the only and most correct way to deal with his town’s water supply problem.
The plan got unanimous support, respectively, from the council groups of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the VMRO, as well as independent councillor Boris Bonev.
During the debate, concerns were expressed about whether the Sofia water and sewerage network would cope with the additional water supply to Pernik. Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova said there was no need for concern.
On January 27, water company Sofiyska Voda issued an assurance that tests had been carried out and that there was no danger to the water transmission infrastructure of the capital under possible increased load due to the transfer of water to Pernik.
Former environment minister Neno Dimov is being prosecuted for criminal mismanagement in connection with the Pernik water crisis. He denies wrongdoing.
The Prosecutor-General’s office said on January 27 that charges also were being pressed against the former head of Pernik’s water utility Ivan Vitanov and the former caretaker mayor of Pernik, Sevdelina Kovacheva.
The Pernik water crisis is among reasons why, in the National Assembly, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party moved a motion of no confidence in Borissov’s government. The vote on the motion is scheduled for January 29.
(Photo of Belmeken Dam: Boby Dimitrov)