EurEau newsletter - September 2021
Catch up on all the latest news from the European water sector
EurEau meets the European Water Association
On 16 September, our President, Claudia Castell-Exner and Secretary General, Oliver Loebel, met with their counterparts in the European Water Association, Raymond Erpelding and Johannes Lohaus to discuss areas of potential cooperation.
ENVI opinion to EMPL on the protection of workers from asbestos
The ENVI Committee of the European Parliament adopted its opinion to the EMPL Committee with recommendations to the Commission on ‘protecting workers from asbestos’. The final text of the opinion can be found here. The vote in the EMPL Committee is scheduled for the end of September.
Water Reuse Regulation
On 8 September, the Joint Research Centre organised a workshop to present examples of risk assessment for water reuse in irrigation in agriculture currently applied in some Member States. The objective is to help in the development of guidelines on the Risk Assessment for the Water Reuse Regulation. EurEau was represented, with an example from Barcelona.
On aquifer recharge, we shared input and relevant case studies.
Water and agriculture
Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (SUD)
The European Commission is evaluating the SUD in order to revise it according to the Farm-to-Fork (F2F) Strategy objectives. The SUD aims to protect human health and the environment from the possible risks and impacts of pesticides. This initiative reviews options for further reducing pesticide use to help meet the goals of the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Green Deal.
On 5 October EurEau President Dr Claudia Castell-Exner will speak at the Sustainable use of pesticides - third remote stakeholder event organised by DG SANTE and give our views on the policy options developed by the consultants (Ramboll). EurEau is in favour of making the F2F targets binding.
Glyphosate: EFSA and ECHA launch consultations
The European Food Safety Association (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have started parallel consultations on the initial scientific evaluations of glyphosate. The consultations will run for 60 days and all interested parties are encouraged to contribute. Read more here.
ECA report on the impact of agriculture on water quality
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) published a report on the impacts of agriculture on water quantity and how EU policies/CAP address this.
Water and the environment
EQSD and GWD revision: your chance to input
Over the summer, the European Commission launched two consultations, as part of the review and possibly the revision of the EQSD and GWD:
- A public consultation with a deadline of 1 November
- A more complex Experts Survey with a deadline of 5 October.
This initiative was included by President Von Der Leyen in her letter of intent ahead of the State of the European Union delivered in the European Parliament earlier this month.
Protecting the marine environment: review of the EU rules
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive is under review. The aim of the European Union's directive is to more effectively protect the marine environment across Europe. The public consultation is open until 21 October 2021.
Revision of CLP Regulation: public consultation
A public consultation on the revision of the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP Regulation) was launched by the Commission. The Regulation’s purpose is to ensure a high level of health and environmental protection, as well as the free movement of substances, mixtures and articles.
The following issues are tackled: the definition of new hazard classes (PBTs, PMTs and EDs) and the possible extension of the scope of the CLP Regulation to other sectors (like medicines, veterinary medicines, medical devices, cosmetics or additives for food) that have their own regulations but expose gaps in the management of environmental risks.
Feedback must be submitted by 15 November.
RED, EED and the Energy First Principle
Although the water sector is not specifically addressed by specific measures or contributions to the 2030 targets and climate neutrality by 2050, the Fit-for-55 package is relevant to us, especially the energy directives (Energy Efficiency Directive and Renewable Energy Directive) and the Effort Sharing Regulation.
Meanwhile, the European Commission this week approved and published the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle practical implementation guidelines for decision makers – which includes a chapter on water. The ‘energy efficiency first’ principle contributes to the Green Deal’s aim of prioritising energy efficiency and avoiding energy waste.
This initiative seeks to provide guidelines for authorities and decision makers on how to apply this principle in the energy sector, illustrated by best practices. It aims to ensure that:
- energy efficiency is treated as a sustainable and viable alternative to energy production
- energy needs are considered in policy, investment and planning decisions.
Draft RoHS delegated directive: Hg UV lamps exemption
The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive restricts the use of specific hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products (known as EEE). All applicable products in the EU market after July 1, 2006 must pass RoHS compliance.
The Commission Delegated Directive amends Annex III to Directive 2011/65/EU. The draft delegated RoHS Directive for the renewal of the mercury-based UV lamps exemption does not include the water disinfection and treatment application specifically in (4f) Annex III, nor the right definition of the lamps.
EurEau has reacted to support extending the exemptions for five years and explicitly including the specific application of disinfection and treatment for drinking water and waste water for low and medium pressure discharge lamps emitting light mainly in the ultraviolet spectrum.
EoW status for certain waste streams
The European Commission is looking at defining EU End-of-Waste criteria for certain waste streams as part of the Circular Economy Action Plan.
From the waste water side, the Fertilising Product Regulation (FPR) already gives the End-of-Waste status to certain products recovered from waste water treatment and waste water treatment sludge. As we also recover products not covered by the FPR, EurEau signed a letter initiated by the ESPP to draw attention to those.
On 15 September the JRC organised a workshop in which EurEau participated to make sure that waste water treatment streams are also considered in the scope of the criteria developed by COM. The result of the JRC workshop will be a potential list of waste streams to be considered. Next year, a first stream will be analysed and then 2 or 3 others will follow. The JRC will collect information until 6 October.
MEP Huitema addressed a written question to the Commission on this topic.
Farm-to-Fork strategy: EU Parliament Committees adopt progressive report
The Environment and Agriculture Committees of the European Parliament have adopted a joint Initiative Report on the Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy. It calls for coherence with the Zero Pollution Action Plan and to reinforce rules for pesticide authorisation and use. The plenary vote is expected for October 2021.
A stakeholder meeting was held on 16 September by BiosIS to launch a study on the unintended release of microplastics in the context of the Plastics Strategy. It will look at certain products: pellets, tyres and textiles.
They plan to run the study over two years but results are expected for Q4 2022. They would like to hold 6-8 workshops to map the paths of microplastics and identify a lack of data. WWTPs were in the focus as well as the impact on the quality of sludge and source control measures.
ENVI INI on Pharmaceuticals Strategy: CA being drafted
Compromise Amendments on the Pharmaceutical Strategy are being drafted in the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee. The own-initiative (INI) report could be adopted on 11 October in the committee.
Strategy for Sustainable Textiles: Public consultations
EurEau reacted to the public consultations on the Strategy for Sustainable Textiles and Environmental Footprint of Apparel and Shoe wear.
We highlighted the impact of microfibres, biocides, microplastics and chemicals on waste water from textile washing, and their impact on the environment and water resources. If control-at-source measures are insufficient, polluters should pay the additional costs of treating our water so that it is free from pollutants before being returned to the environment. This includes extra treatment steps at waste water treatment plants.
The Textile Strategy encourages the clothing industry to move away from low-cost fast fashion to more durable and sustainable products.
Methane Strategy: INI vote in Parliament
On 28 September 2021, the ENVI committee of the European Parliament voted their own initiative (INI) report on the Methane Strategy. They called “on the Commission to further analyse methane emissions from sludge and waste water and revise the Sewage Sludge Directive and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive in 2022 and to address air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions, notably methane, in these.” We will follow the development of the UWWTD process on this specific topic.
EurEau in the press
EurEau President, Dr Claudia Castell-Exner appeared in two publications recently (in German). Read them here:
Carla Chiaretti wrote an article on the new Drinking Water Directive that was included in the magazine to accompany the 10th Communal Economy Conference held on 23-24 September by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia - Chamber of Public Utilities.
News from our members
NORDIWA is taking place at the moment. Svenskt Vatten is showcasing UTBLICK in order to create a discussion about the water industry of the future. You can watch the explanatory animation here (in Swedish).
Leaks from the sky
Since a satellite allows NASA to search for water on the moon, why not use this technology to search for leaks in the distribution network? VIVAQUA, one of Belgium's leading water companies, has recently tested the technology.
How does it work? 630 km above our heads, an on-board device scans the ground to a depth of 2 meters and measures its electrical resistance, which is different when the ground is waterlogged.
The VIVAQUA leak detection service uses the collected data and, using their regular equipment, locates the leaks precisely. In only four days, VIVAQUA was able to detect 14 leaks within the 6.8km that were surveyed. This job would have required more than a month using the standard technique!
This test is part of VIVAQUA's strategic project to reduce unbilled water volumes to 10% of total production by 2024. The actions planned to achieve this goal include increased sectorisation of the Brussels distribution network, identification of volumes used free of charge by different consumers and even more effective leak detection.
The temperature in the sewers is almost constant throughout the year. In winter, when it is cold outside, it is warmer in the sewer. In summer, when it is hot outside, it is cooler in the sewer. Riothermal energy allows operators to recover heat from sewage to heat or cool buildings.
This technology is not a new concept. What is innovative is the financial advantage of the solution developed by VIVAQUA, the public company that manages the distribution of drinking water and the sewage network in the Brussels Region.
VIVAQUA has obtained a European patent for HDPE (high density polyethylene), a very resistant heat exchanger made from a synthetic material that is less expensive than the standard materials currently used. These exchangers are placed in the sewers during renovation work. Connected to a heat pump, they extract energy to heat the buildings in winter and cool them in summer.
Uccle, a municipality in the Brussels region, has already relied on this technology to heat and cool its new administrative centre. The heat exchangers installed by VIVAQUA will provide up to 25% of the cooling and heating needs of the building and reduce its annual CO2 emissions by 40 to 60 tons.
VIVAQUA and street art
This year, VIVAQUA celebrates its 130th anniversary. For the public company that manages the distribution of drinking water and the sewage network in the Brussels Region, this event is the ideal time to raise awareness of its activities.
Since September, its head office in central Brussels is included in the Street Art trail of the city. A mural created by the FRESKOLAB collective on one wall of the HQ building gives walkers the opportunity to discover the water professions in an original way.
The work, called ‘Water doesn’t fall from the sky’, shows the essential role of water in everyday life. It also highlights the path of water - both complex and little known to the public - from the source to the sewers. All this with humour and a touch of Belgian surrealism.
6 October 2021 – online; The ECHA is organising a Safer Chemicals Conference.
10-14 October 2021 – online; OECD Forum on Green Finance and Investment
18-20 October 2021 – online; Danube Water Conference themed Building a Resilient and Water Secure Danube Region
23-26 November 2021 – ENEG 2021 will be on the theme of Difficulties in Water Management and Climate Emergency: Looking for the Necessary Changes; Tivoli Marina Vilamoura | Centro de Congressos do Algarve, Portugal
25 November 2021 - BLUE PLANET Berlin Water Dialogues
26-27 January 2022; - Smart Water Utilities conference and exhibition. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2022 – CEOCOR; hosted by ÖVGW in Vienna, Austria. (postponed from 2021).
22-24 June 2022 - Water Safety Conference in Narvik, Norway. More.
11-15 September 2022 - IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition; Water for smart liveable cities in Copenhagen, Denmark.
12-15 September 2022 - LuWQ2022, 5th International Interdisciplinary Conference on LAND USE AND WATER QUALITY: Agriculture and the Environment; Maastricht, The Netherlands.