Water spring concessions in Bulgaria have dwindled from 25 to 15 over the last few years.
Amendments to water legislation are the cause for this pullout en masse, Asen Lichev, an expert for the Ministry of Environment and Water, was quoted as saying by website Expert.bg
The changes approved a few years ago stipulate that a water deposit could only be exploited by a single concessionaire.
They have led to an increase in the number of companies leaving the sector, with 21 operating in 2012 and only 15 in the beginning of 2014, according to official data by the Ministry.
In Lichev’s words, if the acting legislation remains, “soon there will be only four of the biggest concessionaires” in the sector as they are using over 70% of the water permits.
Reversing the changes has already been proposed by ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party’s MP Yordan Mladenov, as he and lawmakers from Parliament’s environmental committee (who backed his idea) believe this could lead to a more efficient management of water resources.
The new draft text has however met some resistance, with its opponents saying it would constitute a blow to acting concessionaires at water deposits.
Part of the text is also said to be incompatible with European regulation.
Deputy Environmental Minister Atanas Kostadinov, who does not share this opinion, explained under EU directives each country has the right to set its rules regarding mineral water extraction and its market placement.