Bulgarian municipalities can finally tap into more than 600 million euro under the EU’s Environment operational programme for sewage systems after the scheme’s administrating body invited them to file project applications. The financing will be used to cover a major portion of the most urgent needs of Bulgaria’s aging water infrastructure and bring it in line with European standards, according to Malina Krumova, head of the Environment Cohesion Policy department. In a statement on its website on August 18 2010, the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water said it has opened a direct grant award procedure for 36 municipalities related to the preparation and implementation of investment projects on the construction of wastewater treatment plants and sewage networks within places with populations of more than 10 000 aimed at achieving the requirements of European legislation on urban waste water treatment and reduction of the disparities with regards to the share of the population connected to sewage system. The list includes all of Bulgaria’s seaside municipalities, as well as major resorts such as Sunny Beach, Golden Sands and Albena, which have been spewing waste into the Black Sea waters for years. The water part of the operational programme had been sealed off for almost a year because of a change in rules and the renegotiation of contracts signed at above-market prices by the former government.