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Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive

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The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWT) (Council Directive 91/271/EEC) was adopted on 21 May 1991. The Directive concerns the collection, treatment and discharge of urban waste water and the treatment and discharge of certain industrial waste waters. Its aim is to protect the environment from the adverse effects of insufficiently treated urban waste water discharges and discharges of industrial waste water from food-processing industries.

Objectives and requirements

  • Collection and treatment of waste water (including industrial waste waters) in all agglomerations with a population equivalent (p.e.) > 2000.
  • Secondary treatment (i.e. biological treatment) as rule; more stringent treatment in sensitive areas and their catchments for agglomerations > 10000 p.e.
  • Permit procedure for treatment plants, for discharges from the agro-food industry ( > 4000 p.e.) and for industrial discharges from urban waste water sewerage systems.
  • Monitoring of performance on treatment plants and affected waters and controls on sewage sludge disposal / reuse.

Timeframe

Deadline Task
31 December 1993
  • Designation of sensitive areas and identification of less sensitive areas
  • Discharge of industrial waste water into collecting systems and urban waste water treatment plants subject to prior regulation and authorization
  • Requirements for authorization of direct discharges of industrial waste water from food processing industries to surface water in place
31 December 1998
  • Collecting systems for agglomerations > 10000 p.e. where discharges are into a sensitive area and its catchment
  • Disposal of sludge subject to registration or authorization
  • Disposal of sludge to surface waters is banned
31 December 2000
  • Collecting systems for agglomerations > 15000 p.e. discharging into normal areas
  • All discharges from agglomerations > 15000 p.e. subject to secondary treatment
  • Direct discharges of industrial biodegradable waste water from plants of > 4000 p.e. to surface water subject to prior regulation/authorization
31 December 2005
  • Collecting systems for all agglomerations > 2000 p.e.
  • All discharges from agglomerations 10000 –15000 p.e. subject to secondary treatment
  • Discharges to freshwater and estuaries from agglomerations between 2000 and 10000 p.e. subject to secondary treatment
  • Discharges to freshwater and estuaries from agglomerations < 2000 p.e. subject to appropriate treatment
  • Discharges to coastal waters from agglomerations < 10000 p.e. subject to appropriate treatment


Obligations

The regulations have obligations for Member States in respect of the collection, treatment and monitoring of urban waste water.

Planning

  1. Identify agglomerations and calculate the size (p.e.).
  2. Inventory and current status (size, collecting systems, treatment level, monitoring systems, sludge management) of agglomerations > 2000 p.e.
  3. Designate sensitive areas and identify their relevant hydraulic catchment areas and ensure that all discharges from agglomerations > 10000 p.e. located within the catchment have collecting systems and more stringent treatment.
  4. Establish a technical and financial programme for the construction of sewage collecting systems and waste water treatment plants.

Regulation

  1. Establish systems of prior regulation or authorization for all urban and industrial waste water discharges into urban sewage collecting systems.
  2. Establish systems of prior regulation and / or specific authorization and permits for food processing industries.
  3. All urban waste water generated in agglomerations > 2000 p.e. must be supplied with collecting systems.
  4. Member States should take measures to limit pollution of receiving waters from storm water overflows via collecting systems.
  5. Waste water treatment is provided for all agglomerations at the level specified by the Directive.
  6. Maintain the technical requirements for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of (urban) waste water treatment plants.
  7. Protect the environment from adverse effects of the discharge of waste water.

Monitoring

Member States ensure that monitoring programs of discharges from urban waste water treatment plants and receiving waters are in place and that they correspond to the requirements in terms of parameters monitored, analytical method and sampling frequency.

Information and reporting

  1. Cooperation and exchange of information with other Member States when discharges of waste water have a transboundary effect on water quality of shared waters.
  2. Adequate reporting procedures and databases regarding the status of collecting systems, discharges from the food-processing industry to surface waters, efficiency of treatment plants and the quality of receiving waters and national legislation, implementation programs and situation reports on the disposal and re-use of treated urban waste water and sewage sludge.
  3. Publication (every two year) of status reports on waste water collection and treatment and disposal on re-use of sludge.
  4. Access for the public to relevant information.

References

Text of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive [1]

External links

European Commission, Urban Wastewater Directive Overview

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The main author of this article is Knockaert, Carolien
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