EurEau newsletter - edition 51 - October 2020
Governance of water services in Europe - EurEau report
Water services are essential services. They support the sustainable development of our societies and are fundamental to realising our green and societal ambitions. How they are managed differs from country to country across Europe.
The online report is here.
EurEau briefing note on PFAS and drinking water
PFAS are a diverse group of synthetic fluorinated compounds. The persistent nature of these substances means that they are very resistant to biodegradation and they are now ubiquitous in the environment, including - sometimes - water sources.
Our briefing note details the knowledge that drinking water operators have acquired on PFAS: what they are, why they are problematic for drinking water suppliers, if and how they can be removed from water by various treatments that would shift the problem from water to other media (carbon, concentrate, etc.), creating new challenges. Case studies reported by water operators from various EurEau countries are also gathered.
You can read our briefing note here.
Water Matters – EurEau in your ears
New episodes of our Water Matters podcast were published in October.
You can listen to Ole Steensberg Øgelund from DANVA, Denmark about waste water and energy, and Gari Villa Landa Sokolova (AEAS, Spain) about the challenges facing us. We also talked to Veronica Manfredi from the European Commission about water and the EU.
You can find it here, or on your Apple device or in Google podcasts.
Drinking Water Directive update: adopted by the Council of the EU
EU’s new Drinking Water Directive addresses new challenges to deliver improved drinking water quality to consumers.
It’s been a long journey from the Commission’s initial proposed revision of the Drinking Water Directive in 2018 until now. The outcome? Following the adoption by the Council of the EU on Friday 23 October, water remains safe and affordable, while Member States will improve access for all.
Read our views here.
The final vote by the European Parliament Plenary is provisionally scheduled to take place in December. The entry into force is foreseen in early 2021. For the translation into national languages, we will have to wait for the publication on the OJEU although competent national ministries might already have the final text.
Bathing Water Directive: Review timeline published
The timeline for the review of the Bathing Water Directive (BWD) is published. The public consultation will be published in early 2021 and the adoption of a new proposal is forecast for autumn 2023.
The BWD requires Member States to monitor and assess bathing water for at least two parameters of (faecal) bacteria. They must inform the public about bathing water quality and beach management.
Water and agriculture
Common Agricultural Policy: EU institutions agree on negotiation mandates
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is Europe’s financing instrument for farming activities. Member States have now agreed their general approach to the post-2020 CAP at the Council meeting of 19-20 October 2020. Of particular importance for EurEau members is the draft Regulation on the CAP strategic plans as it contains the provisions on conditionality, eco-schemes and the Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients. In parallel, the European Parliament adopted its first reading position including on the draft Regulation on the CAP strategic plans.
Both positions fall short of the ambitions of the EU’s Farm-to-Fork Strategy (which aims to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly) and do not live up to the needs of sustainable water resources protection.
Next steps: Both institutions will now enter into direct negotiations. The entry into force of the new CAP may be delayed by up to two years, i.e. until the beginning of 2023.
EurEau submitted the answer to the public consultation on the impact of CAP on water.
Water Reuse Regulation: Work on implementation guidelines progress
Since the adoption of the Water Reuse Regulation last year, the CIS Ad-hoc Task Group on reuse met on 7-8 October to discuss the development of the guidelines for the implementation of the regulation. This is a vital step for us, especially for the indications on the validation process for reuse projects. The group is also working on the guidelines for the risk assessment.
Water and the environment
WFD and the daughter directives
The Commission is proceeding with its review of the Environmental Quality Standards Directive (EQS) and the Groundwater Directive (GWD).
For the GWD, the revision should concern Annex I and II.
For the EQS Directive, there is no clarity at this stage whether only the Priority Substances list will be revised or the directive as a whole.
The CIS WG Chemicals sent a request for experts to volunteer to work on the priority substances dossiers. We already shared the names of experts that would like to integrate the substance-specific working groups with the European Commission and the JRC. The prioritisation work will take place in the coming months and should be finalised by February 2021 so that the consultants will be able to work on an impact assessment.
The Parliament is working on a resolution on the fitness check of the WFD, including too the EQS Directive and the GWD, and the vote in Environment Committee of the European Parliament should be held at the beginning of December. The Compromise Amendments (CAs) are not available yet.
European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR)
The Inception Impact Assessment of the E-PRTR was published on 28 September 2020 and will assess how the E-PRTR can be more efficient. The E-PRTR records the emission and transfer of pollutants from the industry to the environment. It provides an overview of the release of 91 substances in the environment. However, currently, the register does not deliver good quality data that can efficiently help to protect water resources. Improvements regarding double reporting under both E-PRTR and the UWWTD for certain waste water treatment plants could be assessed.
EurEau submitted the feedback to the inception impact assessment of the E-PRTR.
Industrial Emission Directive Evaluation report published
The report on the evaluation of the Industrial Emission Directive (IED) has finally been published. You can find it here.
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, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques (BAT).
INSPIRE Directive: feedback submitted
The directive aims to establish an infrastructure for sharing spatial information environmental policies, etc which may have an impact on the environment. Water operators aim to keep sensitive information on critical infrastructures excluded from the directive’s scope. The European Commission has now launched the review process through the publication of the roadmap.
Critical Infrastructure: new Commission tools soon to be adopted
On the 15 December the Commission will adopt:
- A communication on the Cybersecurity Strategy
- A new proposal on the directive on security of network and information systems (NIS Directive)
- A proposal for additional measures on critical infrastructure protection.
The NIS Directive sets a range of network and information security requirements which apply to operators of essential services and digital service providers. We are awaiting more information. Our response to this consultation is here.
The Critical Infrastructure (CI) Protection Programme aims to better protect CI systems from disruption by natural disasters and man-made threats (e.g. terrorism, cyber-attacks, disinformation, hostile foreign ownership).
Commission Work Programmes
The Commission Work Programme for 2021 was published this week and is available here.
For an overview of all the new initiatives (legislative and non-legislative) and the relative timeline see here.
Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability: publishes their opportunity to protect our water resources
EurEau welcomes the Chemicals Strategy including its toxic-free hierarchy, the extension of the generic risk assessment, actions on EDCs and chemicals mixtures, and PFAS. We are very satisfied with the document since it reflects important elements that EurEau has advocated for. If fully implemented, this strategy will support a move towards zero pollution and circular societies. Read more.
An action plan details the legislative and non-legislative measures and the relative timeframes for the implementation of the strategy.
There are various Staff Working Documents (SWD) and one is dedicated to PFAS.
The Commission intends to tackle PFAS in various pieces of legislation (REACH, food, food-contact material, horizontal products legislation, IED etc), including water legislation.
Circular Economy Action Plan: update
The European Parliament is drafting a resolution on the Circular Economy Action Plan, which is part of the EU’s Green Deal to make the EU's economy sustainable (blog). This plan aims to make circularity the mainstream in our lives and speed up the green transition of our economy. As the draft does not take into account water, we and our Dutch members have contacted MEPS with amendments.
Climate Change Adaptation Strategy: moving forward
As part of the German Presidency of the EU, a European conference on adaptation to the impacts of climate change will take place on 4-5 November in (virtually) Berlin. The conclusions will be incorporated into the debate on updating the EU Adaptation Strategy. Part of the conference will deal with water scarcity and low water and attempt to lay the foundation for a strategic approach to water management in Germany and the EU. Dr Claudia Castell-Exner, EurEau President, will speak at this conference.
The European Parliament Intergroup on biodiversity, which EurEau supports, will meet to discuss the future strategy on 20 November (10am-midday). The meeting will be chaired by MEP Woelken. It will be an occasion for us to highlight the important role that the water sector plays in the adaptation to climate change.
Methane Strategy: ignores biogas potential of waste water, distorts competition
The EU’s Methane Strategy, which as part of the EU’s Green Deal to make the EU's economy sustainable, came on 14 October. It aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions. EurEau disagrees with parts of the strategy in that it only mentions the methane emissions from the waste water sector but ignores its substantial potential for biogas production.
We call on the EU’s support to develop replicable measurement measures. Methods and establish baselines as a prerequisite to determining effective mitigation.
Our views are here.
Briefing note on reducing the energy footprint on the water sector.
Podcast episode of 'Water Matters' on 'Energy Matters'.
Zero Pollution: action plan on water, air, soil
The Zero Pollution Action Plan intends to achieve no pollution from “all sources”, cleaning the air, water and soil by 2050. It is part of the Green Deal to make the EU's economy sustainable.
The Zero Pollution Ambition roadmap is published and EurEau sent its feedback.
The Commission will release a public consultation at the beginning of November that will be open for at least 13 weeks.
The action plan should be published by the European Commission in Q2 2021.
Former EurEau colleague awarded OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours list
Former EurEau and Water UK Senior Policy Expert, Dr Jim Marshall, has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the water sector.
Jim, who recently left Water UK after 14 years to take up a new role at Southern Water, receives the honour for his work coordinating the industry’s response to Covid-19.
SARS-CoV-2 Monitoring project JRC
The project run by the JRC started a second sampling campaign this summer with more than 100 WWTP participating to track and trace SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in our waste water. A report should be published by the end of the year.
8th Environment Action Programme: adoption
The 8th Environment Action Programme will guide European environmental policy until 2030, supporting the environment and climate action objectives of the European Green Deal. It calls for the active engagement of all stakeholders at all levels of governance, to ensure that EU climate and environment laws are effectively implemented. It forms the EU’s basis for achieving the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.
This legislative file was adopted by the European Commission last week and we will follow the process in the Parliament and Council to ensure that the level of ambition stays the same.
All Policies for a Healthy Europe Platform
The Platform finalised successfully its policy paper on the Zero Pollution Action Plan on water, air and soil.
EU Water Operator Partnership
After various delays, the partnership between the Commission and the UN-HABITAT’s Global Water Operator Partnership Alliance (GWOPA) will be launched soon.
The Water Operators’ Partnerships are an opportunity to speed up delivery of development goals through long-term, not-for-profit partnerships between water and sanitation utilities with the goal of strengthening the capacity and operational performance of utilities in developing countries to enable local achievement of SDGs.
The managers are still planning a two-phase application process with about three months for the concept note preparation and – for successful concepts - another three for the full proposal.