EurEau newsletter - April 2023
Get all the European water news for April, here!
Many of EurEau’s members have welcomed new CEOs in recent months. Pascual Fernandez is the new president of the Spanish Association of Water Supply and Sanitation (AEAS). Norway’s Norsk Vann is now headed by Ragnhild Aalstad while Riku Vahala takes up the helm at the Finnish Water Utilities Association, FIWA. We are looking forward to working with them all!
On 19 April, Sébastien Mouret spoke at the Water Ireland 2023 conference, organised in partnership with our member Uisce Éireann, where he presented an overview of future EU priorities for water policy.
Later in the month, in the framework of the EGU (European Geosciences Union) General Assembly 2023 (23-28 April), Gari Villa-Landa presented the evolution of the water acquis in the EU in the session ‘Science-policy interface in hydrology’.
UWWTD: next steps in the legislative process
A meeting was held on 26 April to present the Torvalds MEP draft report on the UWWTD. The deadline for amendments in the ENVI Committee is 5 May.
Gari Villa-Landa represented EurEau in a breakfast meeting on 27 April organised by the Nordic Associations of Local and Regional Authorities to discuss the file.
Water and agriculture
Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation: amendments tabled
The members of the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee tabled their amendments to the SUR. While it is good to see that EurEau’s recommendations found support, other amendments seek to reject the Commission proposal completely or significantly weaken it. In parallel, the Swedish Council presidency presented proposals that would substantially weaken the application of Integrated Pest Management measures. The protection of our scarce drinking water resources may become the main victim of this revision.
Spain, who will assume the rotating Council presidency in July, is pessimistic about finalising the legislative procedure by the end of this year.
The European Environment Agency released a new study confirming that more action is needed in the EU to reduce the impacts of chemical pesticides.
Water and the environment
WFD, EQSD and GWD: compromise amendments tabled
We are contributing to the compromise amendments that are being finalised in the European Parliament at the moment. These include introducing an EPR scheme to cover monitoring costs as well as making emissions inventories available to drinking and wastewater operators.
The ENVI vote is scheduled for 26 June, while the AGRI opinion vote is scheduled for 23 May.
CLP: ECHA provides advice on new hazard classes for substances and mixtures
Three new hazard classes for classifying, labelling and packaging (CLP) substances and mixtures came into force on 20 April 2023. The ECHA has published information on the application dates and related guidance.
The update has three hazard classes:
- endocrine disruptors (ED) for human health or the environment
• persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT); very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB), and
• persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT); very persistent and very mobile (vPvM).
We welcome this step. In particular, PMT and vPvM substances pose problems for drinking water and wastewater treatment processes.
Chemicals: ECHA restrictions on PFAS and Bisphenols
The ECHA is continuing its work on the universal restriction for PFAS, the so-called forever chemicals. We call for a full ban as these substances are extremely difficult and costly to remove from the urban water cycle. We will provide input to the ongoing consultation on the restriction proposal.
Another restriction proposal covers all bisphenols. This is particularly relevant as a new EFSA recommendation establishes a tolerable daily intake of only 0.2 nanograms per kg of body weight per day, for bisphenol A. This is 20,000 times lower than the previous recommendation.
EurEau will attend the June meetings of the ECHA Committees for Risk Assessment and Social and Economic Analysis.
Energy: Fit-for-55 package legislation now approved
The three main pieces of energy-related legislation under the Fit-for-55 package (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Directives and the Emission Trading System Regulation) have been now approved by the co-legislators (the European Parliament and the Council).
Pharmaceuticals legislation: Commission proposals published
The Commission published the draft Pharmaceuticals Legislation on 26 April with the aim to simplify and accelerate the development of medicines. We welcome the introduction of environmental criteria for the authorisation and over-the-counter sale of pharmaceuticals to ensure consistency with the Water Framework Directive and the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. The proposals will help to bring the pharmaceutical sector in line with the Zero Pollution objectives of the Green Deal.
We believe that the proposal should go further and grant water operators full access to the Environmental Risk Assessments of new medicines, not just a summary. Read more…
Industrial Emission Directive: AGRI opinion adopted
The AGRI committee of the European Parliament has adopted its opinion on the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), requesting that cattle farms be excluded from the scope of the text. The opinion also calls for only the very largest pig and poultry farms to be included and generally seeks to reduce the administrative burden on farmers, potentially at the expense of environmental protection.
The lead committee on the file, ENVI, is finalising its compromise amendments ahead of a vote scheduled for 25 May, with a plenary vote expected on 10 July.
Microplastics: Will the Commission deliver on its promise?
Following a public consultation, the Commission should present this month, measures on microplastics unintentionally released into the environment with the aim to reduce microplastics entering the environment by 30% by 2030.
We support ambitious measures to protect the quality of our aquatic environment and sewage sludge. However, there are fears that the Commission might limit its proposals to plastic pellets.
Six countries (DK, FR, DE, LUX, NL, NO) have now called on the Commission to present strong legislative proposals in order to meet the 2030 target.
Textiles: Parliament calls for measures on microfibres
In reaction to the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee adopted recommendations for EU measures to ensure that textiles are produced in a circular, sustainable and socially just way. So-called ‘fast fashion’ should be phased out. MEPs call on the Commission to present its proposals to reduce unintentionally released microplastics including microfibers into the environment without further delay.
The report is expected to be adopted in the Parliament’s plenary before the summer.
New benchmarking cycle EBC Foundation
The EBC Foundation, of which EurEau is a founder member, offers drinking water and wastewater companies from Europe and beyond an improvement programme for water services.
Every year, the EBC organises a benchmarking exercise consisting of a sound performance assessment as well as knowledge exchange activities to learn from each other’s good practices and innovations. The Public Report of the 2022 exercise illustrates what the programme looks like and provides you with recent (anonymised) performance data.
Information about the new benchmarking cycle is available in this Call to Register or at EBC’s website www.waterbenchmark.org
WAREG Call for Proposals: Energy Neutrality in Urban Wastewater Treatment in the EU
WAREG is glad to announce a call for proposals on the topic of ‘Research on energy neutrality in urban wastewater treatment in the European Union: European targets and key economic instruments to achieve them’. Applications for this research paper should be submitted by 19 May 2023. Read more.
23-25 May 2023 - Danube - Eastern Europe Regional Water Forum - Redal Expo – Sibiu, Romania.
24 May 2023 - The International Technical-Scientific Conference: Water Industry – Challenges and Perspectives. Redal Expo, Sibiu, Romania).
3-11 June 2023 – Green Week, as part of the European Year of Skills, the EU Green Week Partner Events will focus on skills for sustainable, resilient, and socially fair communities.
5-7 September 2023 – NORDIWA call for abstracts for the conference to take place in Gothenburg, Sweden. More on NORDIWA: Home (trippus.net) …
4-6 October 2023 - Smart Cities, Poland; More information soon.