Waste Water In Europe
New Report on EU Waste Water Treatment shows significant improvement in EU-13 Member States.
With 95 % of waste water collected and 89 % treated in 2014, compliance rates with EU waste water rules remain very high - although slightly lower than in the last reporting period. The reason for this is that data from three large Member States, whose performance is below average, are included for the first time in the Commission report on implementation of EU waste water treatment rules. Nevertheless, the implementation trends are generally positive, particularly for the EU-13 countries, where the situation has improved markedly in the last three reporting periods.
For this report, which covers more than 23 000 towns and cities, an open-source web-based tool was used, which enables automated and standardised processing and dissemination of data. This has significantly improved the quality of data and their verification. Detailed information on concrete efforts required by each Member State under the concept "distance to compliance" is covered for the first time.
Currently urban waste water of 11 million population equivalent is not collected and that of an additional 41 million is not properly treated1. This shows that there are still areas where infrastructure has to be built or enhanced. The 11 500 ongoing or planned projects which Member States report in their national implementation programs will go some way to reduce the compliance gap.
Financing and planning remain a big challenge, despite the substantial investment from EU Structural Funds - about 10 billion EUR goes to wastewater treatment infrastructure.
The water industry is an important driver for economic growth, creating an annual production and added value of around 137 billion EUR and more than 600,000 related jobs. The sector also contributes to the circular economy through nutrients recycling, sewage sludge and waste water re-use, and production of renewable energies through the application of new technologies at treatment level.
The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive requires Member States to ensure that agglomerations (towns, cities, settlements) properly collect and treat their urban waste water. Untreated waste water can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses, presenting a risk to human health. It also contains nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous which can damage freshwaters and the marine environment, promoting excessive algae growth that chokes other living organisms, a process known as eutrophication.
Since its adoption over 25 years ago, it has played a crucial role in improving the quality of the EU’s rivers, lakes and seas and has had a beneficial impact on health and access to sanitation of citizens.
The 9th Commission Report on how Member States apply the Urban Waste Water Directive and their plans for improving implementation covers a pollution amount of just over 600 million population equivalent. It covers the reporting of the implementation status as at end 2014.