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EurEau newsletter - March 2022

EurEau News

World Water Day: making the invisible visible

This World Water Day (22 March), we celebrated our groundwater. Read our article here.

Our members were also active, with Portugal encouraging people to not use water (‘Close the Tap’) for one hour between 22-23h on this symbolic date. Romania hosted an event to mark WWD, while Greece (Thessaloniki) handed out flyers and seeds in the central square (A Day for groundwater - EYATH and Water Day and EYATH - EYATH). Poland had an event on storm water management.

 

Water services and Ukraine

European water services are providing services for refugees leaving Ukraine and also to water utilities damaged in the conflict there. Read more here, here and here.

The Polish organisation IGWP has launched a website to highlight how to assist the Ukrainian water sector practically. You can find a list of needed equipment here that the IGWP is keeping updated together with the Ukrainian organisation.

 

International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day on 8 March, we spoke to some women who are #BreakingTheBias: Francesca Pizza chairperson of our JWG on water reuse, Gari Villa Landa Soklova, co-chairperson of our Committee on Economics and Legal Affairs, and Gunda Röstel, our German representative on our General Assembly.

 

Speaking out

Oliver will deliver a brief statement at the UNECE meeting on 12-13 April that will feed into the 2023 UN Water Conference. The focus is on how water operators contribute to the five dimensions of the human right to water and sanitation.

Building on our stakeholder engagement within the Zero Pollution Platform, Eurocities invited us to speak about our work on microplastics. Anders Finnson, chairperson of our JWG on the WFD will participate in their Environment Forum on 6 April.

 

EU news

Water legislation

UWWTD: Town Hall on sewer surveillance

The JRC organised a Town Hall meeting on sewer surveillance on 15-16 March. The Commission is still intent on publishing the UWWTD by the summer.

The Directive concerns the collection, treatment and discharge of urban waste water as well as the treatment and discharge of waste water from certain industrial sectors.

 

Nutrients – action plan for better management

The call for evidence on the nutrients action plan is open. The deadline for submissions is 26 April. The initiative is connected to the Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan, and is looking at a more sustainable use of fertilisers, reducing nutrient losses and improving the circular economy.

 

Water and agriculture

Sustainable Use of Pesticides: proposal postponed

The European Commission postponed the publication of the Regulation, scheduled for 23 March. It is now expected for “before the summer (2022)”, possibly on 22 June. 

Carla Chiaretti from the Secretariat attended the 10th SUD Symposium on 1 March, where the French INRAE outlined the measures to be taken to move to chemical-pesticide-free agriculture by 2050: to watch the seminar click here. The presentations are available here.

EU rules on the sustainable use of pesticides aim to protect human health and the environment from the possible risks and impacts of pesticides.

 

CAP: National strategic plans lack ambitions, says Commission

The EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski criticised the majority of the national strategic plans submitted under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as too unambitious and needing adaptation and improvement. For example, the Farm-to-Fork Strategy aims for 25% of land to be farmed organically by 2030. The Member State ambitions add up to only 18% by 2027.

A summary of issues identified by the Commission can be found here

Commissioner Wojciechowski reaffirmed the environmental ambitions of the EU farm policy including his will to implement the Farm-to-Fork Strategy.

 

Healthy Soils Law: EurEau input submitted

We responded to the call for evidence on the healthy soils law.

The Soil Health Law aims to significantly improve the state of soils by 2050 and to protect soils on the same legal basis as air and water.

 

Water and the environment

EQSD and GWD: 2nd stakeholder workshop

The Commission held the 2nd stakeholder workshop on 18 March, which we attended. Its aim was to inform the impact assessment of the EQSD and GWD pollutants lists.

The Environmental Quality Standards Directive (EQSD) identifies 'priority substances', for which standards have to be fulfilled in surface waters and whose emissions have to be reduced or (in the case of priority hazardous substances) phased out. The Groundwater Directive (GWD) sets standards for pesticides and nitrates in groundwater, and identifies other substances for Member States to consider setting thresholds.

 

Unintentionally Released Microplastics: Commission continues consultations

In Q4 2022, the Commission may propose legislation on unintentionally released microplastics potentially addressing labelling, standardisation, certification and regulatory measures for the main sources, including tyre wear particles, textile fibres, pellets and paints. These are also mentioned in the policy options for water and sludge under the UWWTD.

Two more stakeholder meetings took place over the past weeks to collect opinions on possible mitigation measures. We welcome the possible inclusion of extended producer responsibility schemes and the focus on control-at-source measures.   

We responded to the definition of (all) plastics. 

The European Commission published a report on micropollutants in water systems funded under 7th EU Framework Programme and Horizon 2020.

There is currently no single European law that covers microplastics in a comprehensive manner.

 

Microplastics: DWD Watch List

The JRC and the Commission are establishing an analytical method to measure microplastics, according to the DWD and with a view to possibly include microplastics on the Watch List under the DWD. We appointed two representatives in this subgroup: Miquel Paraira and Eelco Pieke (Vewin).

 

Textiles: Strategy announced

The European Commission announced (30 March) its Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. Read more

 

PFAS: Public consultation on REACH restriction for fire-fighting foams

Following the meeting of the ECHA Socio-economic committee at the beginning of March, ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) launched the public consultation on the REACH restriction for PFAS use in fire-fighting foams. At the meeting, we called on the authors to include the related cost for water operators in the restriction report and emphasised the need to apply the Polluter Pays Principle. EurEau advocates in favour of a full ban of these ‘forever chemicals’ to protect public health and the environment.

The ECHA consultation will run until 23 September 2022. ECHA will also organise an online information session on 5 April to explain the restriction process and help those interested to take part in the consultation. We are preparing our input.

A PFAS communication campaign is underway, targeting policy makers. You can follow – and share - it on Twitter, Linked In, Instagram and Facebook, as well as reading our news here.

Environmental Sciences Europe published a report on Getting in control of persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT) and very persistent and very mobile (vPvM) substances to protect water resources: strategies from diverse perspectives.

 

Industrial Emissions Directive: draft legislation postponed 

The Industrial Emissions Directive proposal delayed from its expected date of 5 April, to a more likely date at the end of April or beginning of May.

The IED aims to achieve a high level of protection of human health and the environment taken as a whole by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques (BAT).

 

CLP and REACH

We are preparing our response to the public consultation on REACH with a deadline of 15 April.

Regarding the REACH Regulation revision, we responded to the Mixture Assessment Factor targeted survey by consultants. We participated in the 3 March workshop on essential use and sent feedback to the Commission. The Commission is carrying out an impact assessment of the extension of GRA (Generic Approach to Risk Management) under REACH. A workshop dedicated to mapping uses subject to GRA implementation took place on 21 March, with another meeting on cost-benefit taking place on 7 June.

Regarding the Classification, Labelling of Products Regulation (CLP), the Impact Assessment will be finalised later on this Spring, with a proposal and consultation coming at the end of 2022.

The CLP Regulation requires companies to appropriately classify, label and package their substances and mixtures before placing them on the market. The REACH Regulation aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals. 

 

Energy in Europe: EED and RED, and alternative supply

The Commission published REPowerEU on 8 March, its plan to make the EU less dependent on Russian fossil fuels. Our reaction is here.

In the Parliament, the ITRE’s rapporteur draft report and amendments on the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) have been published. There is a general and positive trend in the report to enlarge the assessment of energy efficiency cost-effectiveness to the energy system level and to the climate effects. The major change is the proposal to lower the threshold for the application of energy audits and energy management systems.

The new Renewable Energy Directive (RED) proposes rules for the EU to achieve a 40% renewables target by 2030 while the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) calls for energy savings for the public sector and energy audits with the goal of reducing GHG emissions by 55% and contributing to other Green Deal initiatives.

 

Taxonomy

The Sustainable Finance Platform has finally released the Taxonomy Four report and its Annex.

On the basis of this study the European Commission (DG FISMA) will draft a delegated act in the coming weeks/months. The draft delegated act will be submitted for consultation.

The Commission will consider the feedback received and will finalise the delegated act before sending it to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU for approval or objection.

The report on the social taxonomy was published at the end of February.

The EU taxonomy is a classification system, establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities. It could play an important role in helping the EU scale up sustainable investment and implement the European green deal.

 

Eco-Design on water pumps

EurEau answered the roadmap on the Eco-design Directive related to water pumps.

The Directive provides consistent EU-wide rules for improving the environmental performance of products, such as household appliances, information and communication technologies or engineering. It sets out minimum mandatory requirements for the energy efficiency of these products. 

 

RoHS Directive: Revision process launched

In its response to the call for evidence (roadmap), we called for clarification of the directive’s scope and definitions, and exemptions that are clearly described and based on a holistic approach.

The Commission has launched the public consultation. We will provide input by 2 June deadline.

The RoHS Directive sets out EU rules restricting the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment to protect the environment and public health. Certain uses of relevance to the water sector, such as mercury in UV disinfection lamps, are authorised thanks to temporary exemptions.

 

ETS: municipal waste incinerators covered

According to the European Parliament’s rapporteur’s report on ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme), it is proposed that municipal waste incinerators will be covered by the legisation. This will cause a problem for co-incineration (incineration of sludge with municipal waste). We believe that sewage sludge should not be considered under the ETS, but as biogenic instead.

The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is a cornerstone of the EU's policy to combat climate change and its key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively.

 

News from our members

Report: From source to tap

Vewin published their report ‘From source to tap’,  Dutch Drinking Water Statistics 2022.

 

Other news

European Benchmarking Cooperation: next benchmarking cycle

The EBC is inviting utilities to participate in its next European benchmarking cycle, IB2021. You can read more here and register here.

 

Groundwater memorandum signed

The ‘European Groundwater Memorandum to secure the quality and quantity of drinking water for future generations’ was signed by the water suppliers in the catchment areas of major European rivers.

 

Events

7 April 2022 – Water Safety Planning: tools for development and implementation webinar. More.

20-22 June 2022 - 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform, Vienna & hybrid ww.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4.

19-22 June 2022 – Water Loss Conference, Prague, Czechia. www.waterloss2022.org

22-24 June 2022 - Water Safety Conference in Narvik, Norway. More.

23 August – 1 September 2022 – World water Week, Stockholm, Sweden. More

11-15 September 2022 - IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition; Water for smart liveable cities in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Call for Content is open and you can read more here.

12-15 September 2022 - LuWQ2022, 5th International Interdisciplinary Conference on Land use and water quality: Agriculture and the Environment; Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Tags: newsletter, water europe

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