Stricter rules for wastewater treatment in Europe • Water News Europe

Stricter rules for wastewater treatment in Europe • Water News Europe

Brussels is reviewing the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD). In 2019 the European Commission evaluated the implementation of this directive and identified its shortcomings. A year later stakeholders were consulted and until the 21 st  of July citizens can contribute to the new rules. Although the revision process is not yet completed, it is already obvious stricter rules for wastewater treatment can be expected .

According to the current rules there is no need for secondary treatment for wastewater in communities with a population smaller than 2.000. But small agglomerations and non-connected dwellings place significant pressures on 11% of the EU’s water surface bodies, concluded the European Commission in the evaluation in 2019. Introducing extra treatment rules for small communities seems a logical step.


According to the evaluation of the European Commission some EU countries are lagging behind with UWWTD-implementation and need to step up their efforts. The website provides detailed information about the state of urban waste water treatment in all Member States and the pressure untreated wastewater is putting on the local environment. The implementation of wastewater treatment in the European Union is supported through substantial EU funding. And where needed the implementation is driven through infringement. Some Member States, like Greece and Spain, were fined over the last years for not complying to the rules.

Separate sewers are needed

Due to climate change the European Commission expects more storm water overflows in the future. These incidents will place significant pressure on surface water bodies and form an increasingly important source of pollution. Separating the collection of wastewater from the collection of rain water can be an effective solution to prevent overflows. So different sewers for grey and black water need to be realised.