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Have your say: Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive

The European Commission has opened its call for feedback on the inception impact assessment of the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD).

This directive aims to protect the environment and people from the adverse effects of urban waste water discharges, requiring that waste water is collected and treated before it is returned to the environment.

The original 1991 directive is hailed as a success, seeing a massive improvement in the quality of our rivers, lakes and seas around Europe and thereby helping the EU to attain the goals of the Water Framework Directive, amongst other directives, and improve biodiversity.

A lot has changed since 1991, and the directive needs to be updated in order to deal with contemporary challenges such as new contaminants of emerging concern, climate change and pandemics plus our move towards a cleaner, greener environment. The commission draws attention to the consequences for sludge, and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

We believe that harmful substances should be prevented from entering sewers through the strict application of the Control at Source Principle, and polluters should pay to remove them should they enter our sewer systems. This will help to reduce investment requirements and operational costs while keeping water services affordable. This is also key for enabling the Circular Economy and resource recovery by controlling sewage sludge quality. A similar approach could be applied to urban run-off to limit and control the excess entering sewers during rainy weather. This requires good urban planning and effective sewer management practices.

The Commission’s portal for feedback on the next UWWTD is open for input until 8 September. You can have your say here.

Our briefing note on the management of the waste water network is here, while you can read more about EPR here.

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