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UWWTD: ENVI vote declines full benefit of EPR

The European Parliament’s ENVI Committee voted today (20.09.23) on amendments to the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD).  The recast should allow water operators across Europe to tackle remaining pollution sources, to better align with the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Green Deal, enhance the governance of the wastewater sector and facilitate access to sanitation.

In this regard, while welcoming several amendments from the Parliament, such as those on individual systems or discharges of non-domestic wastewater, we regret the lack of ambition in fully implementing EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) to cover the costs of quaternary treatment, which could increase water tariffs by 2-7% (€5-15  per person and year), undermining the Polluter Pays Principle.

We believe the water sector has the potential to make significant contributions to meeting energy and climate neutrality in the EU. However, the Parliament’s position disregards the reality of the water sector in terms of energy and climate neutrality and, considering the more stringent treatment requirements which will increase energy demand, this may lead to a misallocation of investments at the expense of human health and environmental protection.

The adopted approach on tertiary treatment ignores the sensitivity of the receiving water bodies to nitrogen and/or phosphorus, which could cause problems of inefficiency and bring no additional benefits for the environment (when there is no eutrophication risks) while having significant extra costs.

Last but not least, the text introduces overlapping legislation for water reuse, sewage sludge and monitoring of pollutants.

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