Legal and regulatory provisions

Article 135 of municipal law establishes that municipalities are responsible for public health, hence for sewerage.

At the same time, Article 6 §1 2° of special law for institutional reform of 8 August 1980 provides the Region with the competence on subsidized work in which sewerage is present.

Articles 32 onwards of the decree of 7 October 1985 on the protection of surface water against pollution present provisions for sewerage: “with a view to apply the European Community's directives and other international acts about the protection of surface water, the government can require the municipalities to carry out sewerage work on all or part of their territory under its terms and deadlines”. In so doing, the general sanitation Regulation adopted on 22 May 2003 clarifies the obligations assigned to the municipal authorities.

Moreover, the decree of 15 April 1999 provides the SPGE with the specific mission of the sewerage, since it is about intervention in the costs of carrying out sewerage work. These costs are addressed by Article 32, paragraph 2: “... [costs] of work intended in the general municipal sewerage plan concerned by Article 33 that must be carried out as a priority, either to ensure the optimisation of the operation of water treatment plants, or to ensure a quick protection of susceptible areas such as prevention or surveillance areas.”

The Water Code provides in Article R.273:

“The Walloon Region decides upon the financial structure of the SPGE's participation in financing priority sewers. On those grounds, it may in particular take part within the framework of a sewerage contract.

The SPGE concludes with the Government, the approved treatment bodies and each affected municipality a sewerage contract. The contract provides in particular for:

1° the financing priorities of investments, by the SPGE, according to European obligations and environmental constraints;

2° the respective contribution of municipalities and the SPGE to operating costs of priority sewerage work, that is to say:

  • a) the rate of basis municipal participation represents a part of the sum, excluding VAT and additional costs, of the work;
  • b) the principle of the basis municipal participation is, as long as the sewerage contract is respected, defined as follows:

- 42% in case of laying of new sewers or reconstruction of sewers with an extension of the section;
- 21% in case of reconstruction of sewers without altering the section, or in case of rehabilitation;
  • c) the principle of  the basis municipal participation is accompanied by two types of exemption:

- the modulation of the respective contribution of municipalities and the SPGE on the basis of the integration of the sewerage project, according to the housing density

- the possibility of modulation of the respective contribution of municipalities and the SPGE according to the financing priorities of investments concerned by paragraph 2, 1°.

3° the repartition among the contracting parties of operating costs of services such as the sewerage cadastre or the cleaning.”

Sewerage contract

The sewerage contract conveys the parties' (municipalities, approved treatment bodies and SPGE) will and mutual commitment to favour the coordination of the investments of sewerage work, and sets the commitments of each party:

  • within the framework of the implementation of the sanitation plans per river sub-basin (PASH);
  • during the different stages of completion of the sewerage;
  • to finance sewerage work.

It should be noted that the municipality remains free to commit to this sewerage contract or not. Having the SPGE finance the sewerage is obviously determined by the signing of the contract.

Furthermore, the SPGE determines the sewerage priorities according to European constraints, environmental elements or within management plans. The priorities are added to the sewerage contract and can be reassessed depending on the evolution of the European regulation context and the completion of the sewerage work.

Respective competences – Municipalities – SPGE

Based on the current state of the law, it is clear that the obligation to drain lies with municipalities, whereas the obligation to finance priority sewerage, or taking part in its funding in the limits determined by the Walloon Government, has become the SPGE's mission.