Leaving no one behind
Tuesday 19 November marks UN world toilet day. But we in Europe don’t need to worry about that, right?
Sufficient amounts of safe water for drinking and sanitation is something the vast majority of us in Europe take for granted. We think nothing of opening taps for a glass of water, flushing toilets or washing. Easy access to water, like this, affords us dignity and health.
We assume that everyone in Europe has access to the sanitation services most of us take for granted. In fact, 2% of people, or around 10.3million people, in the EU live in a household without basic sanitation facilities.
Access to safe and clean sanitation services shouldn’t be a luxury.
European water service providers work with the EU institutions to improve access to sanitation and ensure that the legislation protects us.
There are two strands to it: the water that we drink must be clean and safe so that we don’t get sick from water-borne diseases, and the waste water must be collected and treated to an adequate standard so that it can be returned to the environment and not cause harm to us or nature. Which is why it’s important to highlight the vital role sanitation plays.
The EU is in the midst of revising our water legislation. This legislation will improve the quality and environmental standards that water service providers must meet, amongst other criteria.
One of the key pieces of EU legislation that improves life for each of us daily is the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD). Since its entry into force in 1991, we have seen our rivers and lakes transformed into clean bodies that are welcoming back fish and other aquatic life.
The directive’s major purpose is to reduce pollution in our water bodies by introducing minimum standard of water waste treatment, including the collection, treatment and discharge of waste water. It also controls sewage sludge disposal, including a ban on sludge dumping in the sea.
The evaluation of this directive is expected in 2020. It is thanks to laws like it that we have better protection from potentially harmful diseases. We also have cleaner rivers and lakes, safer environments and better health.
We work with the European institutions to protect consumers and the environment, striving for effective legislation that ensures that everyone has continued access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation services wherever they are. We will be there to remind our policy makers of their role and ensure they deliver on it.