In the period from March 29 to 31, 2022, a peer exchange workshop was successfully held in Bijeljina as a continuation of activities within the Project "Policy Dialogue and Skills Development in the Wastewater Sector of the Republika Srpska". The project is funded by the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and jointly implemented by the Association for Water and Environmental Protection "Aquasan Network in BiH" and the Swiss Water Association (VSA).
In the previous period, in a joint cooperation of the Aquasan and VSA representatives, site visits to the wastewater treatment plants in Bijeljina and Bihać were conducted. In this way, experts in drainage and wastewater treatment sector from Switzerland have identified the challenges faced by employees at these plants during their work. As a first step towards solving the identified challenges, the need to organise peer exchange on the topic "Optimization of wastewater treatment plants" was recognized.
On the basis of good practice from Switzerland the objective of the peer exchange workshop was to enable to the representatives of public utility companies PUCs an formally exchange of knowledge and experiences in order to improve their capacities to improve wastewater treatment plants.
Participants of the workshop were representatives of PUC from Bijeljina, Bihać, Gradiška and Trebinje. During the workshop, the current status of the constructed wastewater treatment plants in Bijeljina, Bihać and Trebinje was presented, as well as the project for the construction of a plant in Gradiška.
At the beginning of the event, the participants were addressed by the President of the Aquasan Network in BiH, Mrs. Vesna Muslić, who emphasised the importance of the topic of the wastewater collection and treatment as well as optimal operation of wastewater treatment plants. Mrs. Muslić presented to the participants the basic information about the Project and the link between the previous activities of the Platform for Dialogue and the peer exchange workshop.
The most important aspects discussed during the workshop were: problems in the work of the WWTP, factors influencing the occurrence of problems, activities that WWTP operators can take, issues that should be addressed by decision makers and the importance of public relations. With a similar professional background and the challenges they face in working at the plant, experts from Switzerland provided very useful recommendations to the representatives of PUCs, which was a key part of the peer exchange workshop. As part of the same, the participants also visited the wastewater treatment plant in Bijeljina.
The conclusions and action plans as a result of the exchange, including issues that should be addressed by decision makers, will be used for further activities, in particular for the organization of a joint workshop with all participants in the RS wastewater sub-sector.