By Bejay Browne
A FINAL extension for the payment of sewerage tax in Peyia in Paphos requires that all outstanding bills be settled by the end of June.
The final deadline comes after a two-month extension requested by Peyia council, which had initially asked for a one-year delay. This was rejected by the Paphos sewerage board SAPA.
Peyia councillor Linda Leblanc said this would be the last extension for 2013 tax payments. “If people don’t pay by the deadline, there will be a 20 per cent surcharge and I understand that SAPA will take action to collect these payments,” she said.
The council has now employed the services of Evi Theopemptou, an experienced water and sanitary engineering consultant. She was most recently the general manager of the Larnaca sewerage board and previously executive engineer at the sewerage board of Nicosia.
“She is now our advisor and helping with negotiations with SAPA, timeframes, tenders, and feasibility studies and so on,” said Leblanc.
Theopemptou has already compiled a timetable which will see Peyia operating a sewerage network in the Coral Bay tourist area by the end of 2017. She has also drafted tender documents for SAPA’s review for hiring consultants for a feasibility study. “We are hoping to invite tenders by September,” said Leblanc.
The councilor said the Peyia sewerage plan of 2010 was far reaching and incorporated the entire district, reaching from the Akamas region up to Kathikas village. An alternative is now being discussed which would be more economically viable, she said.
“Our consultant is preparing a request through SAPA to the EU that the first phase would only be for the tourist area on the coast (Coral Bay). Far flung areas of Peyia would be exempt; I think this makes sense.”
Residents were up in arms over recent bills, as there was a lack of information about the cost of the new sewerage project, where it would take place and when, said Leblanc.
She said residents and officials were now fully aware that some sort of sewerage system must be built in line with EU directives, and work must get underway by 2016.
“Some people seem to be under the impression that you can’t charge for something which doesn’t yet exist, but planned taxpayer-funded infrastructure happens all over the world,” Leblanc said.
Peyia was informed by the government that there was no possibility of an extension of the EU deadline or an exemption from the EU requirement.
Leblanc said that the need for sewerage upgrades had been closely examined for the past seven years, and there were no other viable options.
“Small sewage systems are not effective, they don’t work and would be far more expensive to try and do on our own. Most people aren’t even looking after the existing septic tanks properly,” she said.
She said that most are unaware that bleach, chlorine, kitchen and dishwasher fluids and backwashing pools into septic tanks all adversely affect the biological action necessary for them to operate correctly.
“Phase one will need around €5m to be collected to enable SAPA to seek the necessary loans, delays are only making the situation worse,” Leblanc said. Later this year, bills for 2014 will also be sent out.