Newsletter - edition 32 - January 2019
Innovation in the European Water Sector
The European water sector is constantly innovating in order to bring consumers the best water services at the best price and better protect the environment.
Our 2018 Annual Congress in Cyprus showcased several of these. This month we are focussing on the Regional Centre for Waste Water Management in Tychy, Poland.
Regulation on Water Reuse
The ENVI Committee of the European Parliament voted on the proposal for a Regulation for Water Reuse on 22 January. They voted for sustainable water management, protecting our health and the environment through strict water quality requirements for water reuse in agricultural irrigation. The report allows for improvement and clarification on the proposal of the European Commission.
However, it failed to put all actors in water reuse practice at the same level of responsibility. Indeed, despite that the end-user is the one asking for the water to be treated and delivered, in the amended text, they have few responsibilities. To be safe, the water reuse practice requires the involvement of all actors, end-users included, at every stage. The quality requirements are stringent but the end-user must apply certain measures to ensure that the quality of the water is not degraded between the point of delivery and the point of use. The exclusion of the end-users from nearly any responsibility may have a negative impact on the trust of the practice.
We will continue to work with the European Parliament for the vote in Plenary and the Council of the European Union to make this proposal work.
Our full press release is here.
More information on the EurEau position here.
Drinking Water Directive
2019 started with an acceleration of the Council’s work on the DWD under the Romanian Presidency. Meetings at technical level are still scheduled for the beginning of February in order to fine-tune several technical aspects. As Mr Ioan Denes, the Romanian Minister of Waters and Forests, put it to the ENVI Committee during his hearing on 21 January, the Council is working “to reach a balanced text”.
Due to the very strict deadlines according to the European Parliament calendar, it is very unlikely that negotiations between the EP and the Council will start ahead of the European elections. This paves the way for a Council preliminary position (‘general approach’) to be established by the Environment Council on the 5 March or on the 26 June.
MEP Michel Dantin, the Rapporteur on the DWD, will not run for the European elections in an eligible position. This will entail further delays due to the appointment of new MEPs when the next EP resumes its activities in the second part of the year.
Single Use Plastics Directive: EP says yes to environmental protection
The European Parliament’s ENVI Committee approved the agreement negotiated between the Council and Parliament in December. The directive will ban or regulate the use of certain single-use plastics, including wet wipes, to ensure the better protection of our environment.
Under the directive, wet wipe producers will also have to finance awareness-raising campaigns to inform consumers about the damage their products can cause to the sewer network and the cost of repairing this. Moreover, wet wipe producers will have to pay for cleaning up litter. Read more…
The Parliament Plenary will agree on the text in March while Member State approval is expected for April.
The directive should reduce the damage inflicted by wet wipes on the sewer network.
Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive: Implementation – INI report
The ENVI Committee adopted its report on the implementation of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUPD).
The report by MEP Jytte Guteland (S&D/Sweden) calls on Member States to step up their efforts on the implementation of this piece of legislation to protect the environment and public health. You can read more on the ‘EU matters’ blog.
Glyphosate: EU Parliament calls for a rethink of the EU pesticide approval procedure
The European Parliament approved the recommendations of the PEST Special Committee calling for a rethink of the EU authorisation procedure for pesticides. The committee was set up following last year’s highly controversial renewal of the glyphosate authorisation. The non-binding report is available here.
Following up on the compromise adopted in trilogue on 20 and 27 November 2018 available here, the European Parliaments ENVI committee voted in favour of the Fertiliser Regulation text on 21 January.
Our focus is on including sewage sludge-based products as a component of fertiliser. Sewage sludge was not accepted as input material for compost and digestate, even though good quality sludge is close to the quality criteria proposed in the regulation. However, the accepted wording allows waste water operators to continue producing EU compost and digestate as well as national fertilisers, as long as the production lines are well separated.
Struvite, biochar and ash-based products will have to be assessed by the European Commission and to be included in the regulation if the assessment is positive. According to the on-going work, struvite and ashes coming from sewage sludge should be included.
It is a good conclusion to keep all the doors open for the recycling of nutrients in Europe.
At the national level, sewage sludge can continue to be used as fertiliser where it is already possible.
Intentionally added microplastics: EU restriction moves closer to reality
The European Chemicals Agency proposed a ban on microplastics, which could see a reduction of 400.000 tonnes by 2040.
The ECHA found microplastics were most likely to accumulate on land, rather than marine environments, because of accumulation in sewage sludge often used as fertiliser.
Under the proposals, intentionally added plastic particles smaller than 5mm or fibres smaller than 15mm which will inevitably be released into the environment would be banned under the REACH chemicals regulation.
The ban would cover the use, manufacture, import and sale of intentionally added microplastics in the EU, while maintaining certain exemptions (biodegradables, natural polymers etc.). After consideration by the Commission, the ban could enter into force in 2020. Transition periods until 2025 or 2026 are likely to be offered to a number of products including detergents and certain pesticides.
This is a good measure to implement the control at source and improve the quality of sewage sludge for their use as organic fertiliser.
The RIO+ Centre was set up to keep the commitment to sustainable development alive, both in action and ideas.
They have a new publication, which EurEau President Bruno Tisserand contributed to, focussing on nature based solutions. You can download and read Urban Waters – How does water impact and is impacted by cities and human settlements?
This publication discusses urban water challenges from across the globe and offers examples, insights and recommendations for solutions.
Revolve media’s magazine features not one but TWO articles from EurEau! EurEau President Bruno Tisserand’s editorial focuses on EPR, while Chairperson of the Joint Working Group on the Water Framework Directive, Anders Finnson, discusses why the environmental objectives of the WFD are ambitious and should be maintained.
EurEau Secretary General Oliver Loebel participated in a discussion on the challenges of the drinking water sector as part of the Symposium 2019 organised by the Austrian member association ÖVGW on 29 January 2019.
At the sidelines of the EU2 meeting in Berlin, EurEau vice-president Claudia Castell-Exner and Oliver Loebel discussed current EurEau priorities with the German association BDEW.
Movers and shakers
Toril Hofshagen will leave her position of CEO of Norsk Vann (NO) on 31 January. She will be temporarily replaced on EurEau General Assembly by EU2 member, Arne Haarr. Thomas Breen will take over as Norsk Vann CEO in the early summer.
Richard Bilocca from Water Services Corporation, Malta, will be replaced on the EurEau General Assembly by Neil Kerr.
Alexander Keucken (SE) took over the chairing of the JWG on Innovation from Kari Elizabeth Faernas (NO).
7 February 2019 - Expo-conférence Centre de compétence Forem Polygone de l'Eau; Verviers, Belgium.
12 February 2019 – Innovation in Portugal; Tomar, Portugal. This conference will be in Portuguese.
20-24 May 2019 – Internation symposium on Aquafier Recharge; Madrid, Spain.
28-31 May 2019 - 4th European Climate Change Adaptation Conference: working together to prepare for future; Lisbon, Portugal.
22-27 July 2019 - 5th distance education e-learning Summer School on "Wastewater and Biosolids Management" (WWSS19); Patras, Greece.
9-13 September 2019 - 10th IAHS International Groundwater Quality Conference (GQ2019); Liège, Belgium.
23-25 September 2019 - This year, the Nordiwa conference takes place in Helsinki. Read more here.
6-8 October 2019 - ECSM, European Conference on Sludge Management, Liège, Belgium.