EurEau newsletter - La Rentrée 2022
The value of our sanitation services
Our water service providers deliver day and night. Every time you need safe and clean tap water for drinking, hygiene and sanitation, all you have to do is open a tap.
These same service providers conduct used water away from our homes and businesses to treat it before it is returned to the environment, recycling the valuable nutrients along the way and helping to keep us healthy.
All too often these privileges are taken for granted. Understanding the value of our water services is investing in our future and the future of the next generations. Water gives us life. Awareness of the value of water services will ensure that they are effective, efficient, resilient, sustainable and affordable for all.
Briefing note on PFAS, biosolids and the circular economy
This briefing note describes the various pathways PFAS can take to accumulate in air, soil and plants. It identifies the main contributors of PFAS in waste water and how PFAS can end up in biosolids. We demonstrate how only a full PFAS ban can allow for the inclusion of biosolids (also known as sewage sludge) in the circular economy through agricultural application and incineration, while encompassing the nutrient recycling potential.
Our briefing note is here.
EurEau Innovation Sharing Platform
We are in the process of setting up an Innovation Sharing Platform for our members and your members. This interactive discussion forum will serve as a space to share your innovative ideas and solutions to the water challenges we are facing, with your colleagues from across Europe. It will be launched in the next weeks and you will hear more about this – as well as calls for moderators and your innovative waste water/climate change case studies – very soon.
On 13 July, Carsten Schmidt, the chairperson of our Working Group on Agriculture, spoke at the European Parliament Intergroup event on the new European Commission proposal for a Pesticides Regulation. This hybrid meeting was co-organised by MEP Tolleret and MEP Bijoux in the framework of the Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development. You can find the recording of the meeting and the presentations here.
Looking to the future, Anders Finnson, chairperson of our JWG WFD will give an ‘Igniting Pitch’ at the IWA High Level Summit on Monday lunchtime, at the IWA Congress in Copenhagen.
EurEau Secretary General, Oliver Loebel, will speak at the Lviv EcoForum in Ukraine (online) on 15 September. Ukraine became EurEau’s 35th member country in May this year.
Oliver will represent us at Utilitalia’s Festival dell’Aqua conference on 21-23 September on the European Water Agenda: between priorities and feasibility panel.
Oliver will also speak at the Danube-Eastern Europe Regional Water Forum in Sibiu, Romania on 28-30 September.
Bertrand Vallet, EurEau Senior Policy Officer, will be in Linköping, Sweden, for the Nordic Biogas Conference 2022 on 3-6 October, speaking about nutrient and energy recovery from industrial and municipal waste water treatment plants.
We will also be represented at the UfM-EU High Level Conference on Water Finance and Investment Policies (pre-COP 27 event), Cairo, Egypt, on 17 October (online), when Oliver takes the floor.
The following day, Oliver will speak at the Swiss/Baden-Württemberg workshop on micro-pollutants, Friedrichshafen, Germany on 18 October (online).
UWWTD: proposal due Q4
The European Commission is getting ready to publish the new UWWTD on 26 October 2022. More information from the Commission is here. You can read more about our hopes and expectations for the new directive here.
European waste water service providers see the revision as an opportunity to develop an ambitious, innovative, supportive and straight-forward new policy framework enabling operators to meet the Green Deal goals and make waste water collection, treatment and management fit for the decades to come.
New objectives to be delivered must consider the affordability of water services. This includes the long life-cycle of waste water collection and treatment assets and their inherent inflexibility for adaptation or upgrading.
The UWWT 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.
Water Reuse Regulation: Commission publishes guidelines
The Commission has adopted and published (non-legally binding) guidelines to help Member States and stakeholders apply the rules on the safe reuse of treated urban waste water for agricultural irrigation.
The Water Reuse Regulation sets out minimum water quality and monitoring requirements to ensure safe water reuse, as well as risk management requirements, to assess and address additional health and environmental risks.
Water and agriculture
Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products: EurEau finalises position
In its forthcoming position, EurEau welcomes the Commission proposal for a Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products and, in parallel, points to a number of areas that need strengthening to ensure to the protection of drinking water resources.
The proposal is a very positive step towards the implementation of the ambition of the Farm2Fork Strategy of the Green Deal, since it contains binding targets for the reduction and the use of pesticides. Water bodies used for the abstraction of drinking water fall under the definition of “sensitive areas” where the use of all pesticides is banned.
Consolidated EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) online
The European Commission has published the ‘consolidated’ Fertilising Products Regulation text. This text integrates the 1st technical amendments (ATP 2021/1768 of 23 June 2021) and the three ‘STRUBIAS’ criteria: precipitated phosphate salts and derivates, thermal oxidation materials and pyrolysis and gasification materials. It does not include the Recitals of the amendments nor CMCs 10, 11 and 15.
The Commission has also published a document including links to legislative documents, CEN standards and guidance documents for the FPR.
The Fertiliser Regulation lays down common rules on safety, quality and labelling requirements for fertilising products.
Soil health: EurEau joins the Commission’s Soil Expert Group, plus public consultation opens
Arjen Frentz (Vewin, NL) will represent EurEau at the enlarged Soil Expert Group set up by the Commission to accompany the implementation of Europe’s Soil Health Strategy. They will look at the quality and quantity of water run-off.
The Commission launched a public consultation on its future Soil Health Law
The EU Soil Strategy for 2030 was adopted in November 2021 and sets the vision to have all soils in healthy condition by 2050 and to make the protection, sustainable use and restoration of soils the norm.
Nutrient management: Commission prepares action plan
The European Commission is drafting a communication containing an action plan aimed to improve the management of nutrients and minimise losses. The accompanying public consultation ended on 26 August.
EurEau calls for policy makers to develop an enabling regulatory framework encouraging waste water operators to explore their full nutrient recycling potential.
The EurEau feedback is available here.
An integrated nutrient management action plan is aimed to help achieve the 2030 targets set out in the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies to reduce nutrient losses by at least 50%.
Water and the environment
Surface Water: Watch List published
The Commission published the revised Surface Water Watch List, with a focus clearly on antibiotics, fungicides and sunscreen agents. It gives a framework to the RBMP with extra measures to WWTP and for the better protection of water resources.
The document is available in all languages here.
The 2013 Priority Substances in the Field of Water Policy Directive gives a list of chemicals to be monitored for their potential future inclusion in the EQS Directive if they need to be controlled.
Intentionally added microplastics: Commission proposes restriction
The Commission has presented a draft regulation adding a restriction of intentionally added microplastics to Annex XVII of REACH. While EurEau welcomes this Commission action, numerous loopholes and long transition periods will mean that microplastics will continue to be released for the years to come.
You can find the draft regulation here.
Microplastics can make their way into waste water treatment infrastructure and later into the environment. Control at source measures to prevent microplastics from entering the cycle are both sustainable and effective and are key for delivering the circular economy.
Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD) chemicals: JRC publishes guidelines.
The JRC published the Framework for the Definition of Criteria and the Evaluation procedure of the safe and sustainable by design (SSbD) chemicals and materials (27 July).
The framework will support the design and development of safe and sustainable chemicals and drive innovation towards them. We are pleased that PMT (persistent, mobile, toxic) and vPvM hazard classes were included in the cut-off criteria of step1 (Criterion H1). We strongly support this because of the impact that PMT substances pose to water resources, human health and the environment.
We consider that the guidelines, however, lack an explicit reference to substances that can degrade into hazardous components.
The Chemical Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) aims to phase out hazardous chemicals and its action plan includes the development of a framework to define SSbD criteria for chemicals and materials, going beyond the current regulatory compliance.
RED: Parliament votes
The rapporteur for the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), Markus Pieper MEP (EPP, Germany), will present the RED IV proposal to the Parliament’s ITRE Committee by 26 September. This fourth revision is legally necessary to approve some changes voted before the summer at the Parliament under RED III. Both versions will be merged during the trilogue process, which is ongoing and is expected to finish by the end of the year.
The RED III included a 45% target for renewables by 2030, although it has no specific provisions for the water sector.
The RED establishes common principles and rules to remove barriers, stimulate investments and drive cost reductions in renewable energy technologies and empowers citizens, consumers and businesses to participate in the clean energy transformation.
EED: to be debated in the EP next week
The EED (Energy Efficiency Directive) will be debated in the EU Parliament on 12 September. In July, the Parliament voted a 14.5% energy savings target by 2030 compared to 2020, equivalent to a 42.5% savings in primary energy from 2007. It increases the public authorities’ savings to 2% per year up to 2030. Once the Directive becomes effective, energy audits will be mandatory every four years.
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.
ETS: trilogue ongoing
The European Parliament voted in plenary on the inclusion of municipal waste incineration by 1 January 2026, after an impact assessment. The ETS (Emission Trading System) would include municipal waste incineration installations. We are working with MEPS to ensure that whenever sewage sludge is managed together with municipal waste, the sludge will not be covered by the ETS.
Sewage sludge is not considered municipal waste by the Waste Framework Directive and sewage sludge mono-incineration is therefore not included in the ETS.
The EU ETS is a cornerstone of the EU's policy to combat climate change and its key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively.
Environmental Liability Directive: EurEau responds to the public consultation
The European Commission is currently evaluating the functioning of the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) with a view to presenting a legislative proposal in mid-2023. A number of water service-related activities are covered by direct liability. EurEau insists on the need to distinguish between polluters and pathways.
To the EurEau response to the public consultation here.
The ELD establishes a framework based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle to prevent and remedy environmental damage.
Water as an essential service
NIS2 Directive: final steps of the legislative process
The European Parliament’s ITRE committee approved the provisional agreement between the Parliament and Member States on measures for a high common level of cybersecurity across the Union (NIS2). The adoption by the Parliament’s plenary meeting in October and, subsequently, by Member States is seen as a formality, meaning that Member States will need to implement the directive soon. Both drinking water and waste water services are covered.
The NIS2 Directive aims to achieve a high level of security of network and information systems across the EU.
Critical Entities Resilience Directive: close to final adoption
Like NIS2, the CER Directive has passed the Trilogue stage and is now awaiting final approval by the EU Parliament’s plenary meeting. This is envisaged for November 2022. Member State approval will follow shortly after, meaning that Member States will need to implement the directive soon. Again, drinking water and waste water operators are qualified as critical entities.
The CER Directive contains requirements for governments and critical entities to ensure the resilience of the physical assets based on risk assessment and management measures.
INSPIRE Directive: Commission evaluation available
The Commission published its evaluation of the INSPIRE Directive. While it is generally seen as fit for purpose, potential improvements include interoperability requirements and overlaps with the Open Data Directive (PSI) and the Environmental Information Directive.
In the consultation phase, EurEau insisted on the need to exempt certain critical infrastructure elements from public data sharing requirements. The Commission proposal for a revised directive is expected in 2023.
More details here.
INSPIRE provides for the development of an online portal to enable geospatial data on the environment to be shared among public authorities in Europe.
EEA Report: Making Europe’s sewage treatment plants more efficient and circular can help meet zero-pollution targets
Sewage treatment can play a key role in Europe’s shift to a zero-pollution future by becoming more resource efficient and contributing to the circular economy, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report published in July.
EU Survey on the future of the FPR: deadline 16 September
The European Commission is running a survey on possible developments for the Fertilising Products Regulation. It is mainly collecting potential new Component Material Categories for the composition of fertilisers from different sources.
The deadline is 16 September and you can find the survey here.
In the press
Dr Claudia Castell-Exner, EurEau President, wrote in eolas magazine on European water policy priorities. You can read the full piece here (pg 66-68).
Rafael Heredero, EurEau’s Policy Advisor, featured in Innovation News Network (pg 176-179) magazine, talking about how finding an alternative to ‘forever chemicals’ (PFAS) should be key to the EU’s Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan.
12-15 September 2022 - LuWQ2022, 5th International Interdisciplinary Conference on Land use and water quality: Agriculture and the Environment; Maastricht, The Netherlands.
22-27 September 2022 – sixth conference on the Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance (EDAR6); Gothenburg, Sweden. More…
26-29 September 2022 – 20th Europe-INBO International Conference; Annecy, France More…
3-6 October 2022 - Nordic Biogas Conference 2022; Linköping, Sweden More…
27-28 October 2022 - Management of water and sewerage infrastructure in the context of resource reduction and depletion; Bucharest, Romania. More…
28-30 November 2022 - International Conference on Ozone and Advance Oxidation. Science, Technologies and applications for a better world; Toulouse, France. More…
5-7 December 2022 - Strategies toward Green Deal Implementation – Water, Raw Materials & Energy (online). More …