State might approach EU funds for money to fix Väike Väin dam ({{commentsTotal}})

The dam connecting Muhumaa and Saaremaa
The dam connecting Muhumaa and Saaremaa Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

External finance is being considered as an option for the project of overhauling the dam across Väike Väin Strait between the West Estonian islands of Saaremaa and Muhumaa, the regional newspaper Saarte Hääl reported.

At a meeting of the dam work group on Monday, options were considered to apply for money from international funds, such as the funds for the development of the Baltic Sea area or the EU's LIFE program, Berit-Helena Lamp, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment, told Saarte Hääl.

Merike Linnamägi of the Ministry of the Environment's department for environmental protection, said that in environment-related projects the EU Commission covered 60% of eligible costs in 2016–2017, which meant that at least 40% of the money needed had to be found by the parties carrying out the project.

The environmental conditions in the areas surrounding the dam are deteriorating. Up until bigger restoration works in the 1990s, the dam didn’t completely separate the waters of the Gulf of Riga and Muhu Strait, but since then, it has turned into an actual barrier. Eutrophication has led to rampant growth of bladderworts and other plant species that give the water a putrid stench in summer and keep tourists away as well as making it near to impossible to go swimming there.

Creating openings in the dam would help, work against eutrophication, and fit in well with the areas of preference set out for the environment programs that may be able to partially fund the works.

Linnamägi added that the LIFE program was generally willing to support projects like this, as they have a concrete outcome. Calls for proposals of projects under the LIFE program take place once every year. The dates for 2016 have not yet been published.

An existing plan of the Environmental Board suggests that work on the dam would be taken up only in 2019, the municipalities bordering on the strait want the work to start immediately, Lamp added.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

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