Challenging UWWTD changes • Water News Europe

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Challenging UWWTD changes • Water News Europe

A huge investment in extra waste water treatment will be required to meet the proposed changes from the existing Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD). The challenging UWWTD changes include extra removal of nitrogen and phosphorus and the removal of micro-pollutants will increase costs for every EU-citizen.

In October 2022 the European Commission presented a proposal for a revised UWWTD.  These include more stringent discharge limits for phosphorus and nitrogen with these measures to be applied to all waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) of more than 100,000 p.e., even if not in sensitive areas. The measures will also apply to all facilities above 10,000 p.e. located in areas where eutrophication remains an issue.

Extra removal requirements

Member States will need to step up from the current requirements to remove at least 75% of the total nitrogen and at least 75% of the total phosphorus from waste water to 82.5% for total phosphorus and 80% for total nitrogen by the end of 2035. A further goal is proposed for the end of 2040 of the removal of 90% for total phosphorus and 85% of total nitrogen.

Challenging objectives for many Member States

Reaching the stricter discharge limits is going to present less challenges for member states such as the Netherlands and Germany, both of which meet the current UWWTD requirements and remove more than 75% of total nitrogen and total phosphorus from their collected waste water. However, across the EU, the average of the member states’ waste water that is treated according to the requirements of the UWWTD is only 76%. In Ireland, the compliance figure is 44%, and in Romania, 12%.

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