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Frontpage News 2016 Norwegian technology makes Romanian agritourism greener

Norwegian technology makes Romanian agritourism greener
From the establishment of one of the facilities for wastewater management. Photo credit: Ragnar Eltun/NIBIO

Norwegian technology makes Romanian agritourism greener

  • In the Romanian countryside, sewage is often discharged directly into rivers and lakes. This is one of the greatest environmental challenges in Romania today. Norwegian technology is an important part of the solution.

    This article is based on contributions from the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), and was originally published on the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website for the EEA and Norway Grants: 

    The use of fertilizers in agriculture leads to contamination of drinking water many places in Romania. In Maramures County, which is situated in the north-eastern part of the country, a pilot project aiming to find effective and environmentally friendly methods for wastewater management suitable for small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) has been carried out. With €183 000 in support from Norway through the Romanian ‘Green industry innovation’ programme, the project is implemented by the Romanian organisation Heifer International Romania in partnership with the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO).

    Adapting Norwegian technology

    The two first facilities for more efficient organic wastewater management opened in 2015. The technology is based on a concept developed by Bioforsk – the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research – in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Life Science and Norwegian industry in the 1990s.

    “There are hundreds of facilities for organic wastewater management in Norway. The facilities work well if they are built according to industry standard. But in Norway they are relatively expensive – and requires much more space compared to smaller wastewater treatment facilities,” says director for research, Trond Mæhlum, at NIBIO.

    However, if space and local filter materials are available, this could be cost-effective solutions. Romania has favorable natural conditions for establishing facilities for efficient wastewater management, and with help from NIBIO, Norwegian technology has been further developed and adapted for these conditions. The aim is to use the nature, such as soil and vegetation, to improve wastewater management and ensure good water quality.

    Inspire further development

    With support from the Norway Grants, the project aims to increase knowledge on how soil and vegetation can be used to improve water quality and educate the Romanian population on the importance of responsible wastewater management. Through the project, two demonstration facilities have been built. These facilities can inspire further development and local adaptation of methods for wastewater treatment.   

    romania-teknologibilde The figure gives a schematic illustration of the main components of facility for wastewater management: septic tank, sump, pre-filter and filter bed. Photo credit: NIBIO

    “The Romanian facilities are brand new, and we haven’t measured the effect of the wastewater treatment yet,” Ragnar Eltun from NIBIO emphasises.

    After visiting the sight, the team from NIBIO conveyed their satisfaction with the work that has been done and the way the facilities are adapted to the landscape.

    “Both facilities are close to businesses catering to the tourism sector. These areas facilitates demonstration and promotion of wastewater management technology. There will be some adjustments to the design before measurements can start. Hopefully this will confirm that this technology - using nature to improve wastewater management - has a future in Romania,” says Ragnar Eltun.

    romania-ferdig-anlegg One of the completed facilities in the north-eastern part of Romania. Photo credit: Trond Mæhlum


    Read more about the Romanian ‘Greening the agro-tourism business in Romania’ project

    Read more about the EEA and Norway Grants to Romania

  • Country:


    Project title:

    Greening the Agro-Tourism Business in Romania

    Project number:


    Priority sector:

    Green Industry Innovation


    € 183000



    Project promoter:

    Heifer Romania

    Type of Institution:


    Project duration:

    20 months

    Project cost:

    € 204,935

    Grant from:

    Norway Grants

    The wastewater management systems, using reed-bed filters developed with support from the Norwegian partner Bioforsk, will be unique to Romania. Greening waste management systems created for 60 subsistence-farming households. Best practices guides for successful replication of greening the rural tourism industry will be produced and shared. Building two practical models of waste waters management systems using biological waste water treatment through reed bed filters for rural tourism facilities and the nearby households; dissemination of the information by designing and distributing a best practices guide. Greening the households and rural tourism facilities waste management by building 50 practical models for organic compost and 10 manure management systems; dissemination of the information by designing and distributing a best practices guide.The target area chosen for this project is of high cultural and touristic value. Agro-tourism is a well-established local business and brings visitors from all around the country and even abroad.