Wastewater collection and treatment improvements in Europe, says EU report

Sponsored by

EU report shows wastewater collection and treatment improvements in EuropeWhile large discrepancies between individual states remain, the collection and treatment of wastewater in accordance with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive has continued to improve across Europe, according to the latest figures.

Under EU legislation dating back to 1991, Member States are obliged to have systems for collecting urban wastewater, and they have to ensure that water entering collection systems undergoes appropriate ‘secondary’ treatment to remove pollutants.

Additionally, wastewater entering sensitive areas, such as bathing sites or drinking water reservoirs, must undergo further more stringent treatment.

The EU Commission’s Seventh Report on the Implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive to the European Parliament is a measure of how each member state is progressing towards compliance with the Directive and covers the period 2009/2010.

The report measures the percentage of compliance that each country has achieved in wastewater collection (article 3), wastewater secondary treatment (article 4) and more stringent wastewater treatment (article 5).

According to the report, in the EU-15 average compliance rates in 2010 were 88% for secondary treatment and higher for wastewater collection systems and more stringent treatment at 97% and 90% respectively.

However, for the first time, the latest edition of the report features data sent from 27 Member States, covering almost 24,000 towns and cities of more than 2,000 inhabitants.

The findings showed that frontrunners such as Austria, Germany and the Netherlands largely meet EU minimum standards for wastewater treatment, with several other countries not far behind.

Compliance chart

Seventh Report on the Implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive
The chart above shows the percentage to which each of the EU27 are compliant with the Directive. Click to enlarge

Significant improvements

According to the report, despite a lower starting point and lower compliance rates, following EU investments totalling €14.3 billion between 2007 and 2013, newer Member States have also improved overall collection and treatment.

The report showed that the vast majority (91%) of the pollution load from the EU's big cities receives more stringent treatment, a considerable improvement on the situation in the previous report (77%).

In addition, the report found that better water treatment and fewer raw sewage discharges into the environment have also undoubtedly improved bathing water quality. In the early 1990s, only around 60% of bathing sites had excellent quality water, whereas today that figure is 78%.

Main findings:

  • Collection rates were at a very high level, with 15 Member States collecting 100% of their total polluting load. All had maintained or improved previous results, although compliance rates remained below 30% in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia
  • Compliance rates for secondary treatment are 82%, up four points since the previous report. However there were huge differences between the EU-15, where rates were in the range 90% to 100%, and EU-12, where average compliance was 39%
  • Compliance rates for more stringent treatment to combat eutrophication or reduce bacteriological pollution that could affect human health were 77% overall. EU-12 Member States averaged only 14%, whereas Austria, Germany, Greece, and Finland reached 100 % compliance
  • The share of EU territory designated as a sensitive area increased by two points since the previous report, reaching almost 75%. The biggest increases took place in France and Greece
  • An annex to the report comparing the situation of 27 European capital cautioned that only 11 of the 27 had an adequate collection and treatment system in place – despite the fact that the standards were set more than 20 years ago.

"Wastewater treatment is one of those fundamental tests for society: are we cleaning up the mess we create, or are we fouling the environment we depend upon?” asked Environment Commissioner, Janez Potočnik.

“I am relieved to see the trends going in the right direction, and I am also happy to see that Commission action, a mix of financial support and tough legal action when necessary, has paid dividends for Europe's citizens," he concluded.

Read More

The EU’s Water Architect
The four member states of Belgium, Greece, Portugal and Spain have still not submitted River Basin Management Plans. Jeremy Josephs speaks exclusively to EU Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocˇnik to discuss why and the imminent EU's Water Blueprint.

Sponsored by

RELATED PRODUCTS

TODAY'S HEADLINES

City of Lima, Ohio, enters CWA settlement to reduce critical sewage overflows

To resolve claims that untreated sewer discharges were released into the Ottawa River during wet weather, the city of Lima, Ohio, has entered into a Clean Water Act settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice and State of Ohio.

AWWA to Congress: Nutrient pollution reduction key to preventing cyanotoxins

In a testimony recently held before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, American Water Works Association President John Donahue stressed that the solution to keeping drinking water safe from cyanotoxins begins with reducing nutrient pollution.

Reclamation invests $9.2M in water, power research in West amid drought

Following a year of record drought, water managers throughout the West are searching for information and ideas to ensure a reliable and sustainable water supply. To meet this growing need, the Bureau of Reclamation has officially awarded $9.2 million for 131 research projects.

City of Philadelphia names first 'Stormwater Pioneer'

The Philadelphia Water Department has named Stanley's True Value Hardware as the city's first Stormwater Pioneer. The store's third-generation owners were recognized as role models for small business owners and private developers looking to reduce stormwater runoff.

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA