Press Release – 27th General Assembly
How will the proposed revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive impact the water sector? Which role can Regulatory Authorities play in implementing and achieving its objectives?
The Association of European Water Regulators held its 27th General Assembly in Lisbon, Portugal, attended by more than 60 representatives from over 26 WAREG Members and Observers.
The WAREG Assembly agreed on a common position regarding the European Commission’s proposal for a renewed Urban Water and Wastewater Treatment Directive. However, WAREG Members acknowledged some concerns regarding the feasibility of the forecasted implementation costs and timeframes. Despite this challenging context, WAREG members stressed their support for the objectives set by the proposal and reiterated their continuous commitment to promoting the implementation and compliance with EU legislation. Furthermore, the Assembly approved a resolution asking the European Commission to insert in the text of the UWWTD a specific reference to economic regulation.
Furthermore, WAREG approved a key report that provides a comparative assessment of how the rise in energy prices affects the water sector and the measures taken by public authorities to mitigate its impacts. The report presents an analysis of collected data from 18 WAREG members, offering guidance on how to manage energy costs effectively during both emergency and non-emergency periods while providing the necessary signals to incentivize operators.
Several important meetings took place during the Assembly, including the Working Group on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the Western Balkan countries meeting, and the Waste Task Force. In the dedicated Working Group on KPIs, WAREG members are currently studying the different levels of drinking water losses in Europe, comparing the main types of methodologies to measure leakages in water infrastructures and discussing the potential for the harmonisation of KPIs. On this topic, WAREG recommends the use of procedural rules from the IWA to draft the water balance.
WAREG’s work on capacity-building with EU candidate Countries in the Western Balkans continues through specific training programmes for officials of national regulatory authorities in the region. While under the framework of WAREG, the Task Force on Municipal Waste organised its 2nd meeting. The Task Force gathers 11 WAREG Members actively sharing data, knowledge, and best practices. A tentative Work Plan for 2023 has been discussed during the meeting, and the Task Force is currently focusing its work on mapping the landscape of municipal waste regulation and regulators across Europe.
The General Assembly re-elected Professor Andrea Guerrini, Commissioner of the Italian Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and Environment (ARERA), as President, and a new board that will be composed of three Vice-Presidents: Professor Vera Eiró, President of the Board in the Portuguese Water and Waste Services Regulatory Authority (ERSAR); Ms Szilvia Szaloki, Vice-President in the Hungarian Energy and Public Utility Regulatory Authority (MEKH); and Mr Ivaylo Kastchiev, Director of the Water Department in the Bulgarian Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC).
Professor Guerrini expressed WAREG’s commitment to promoting the role of water regulation as a tool to meet the high investments required to meet EU Green Deal targets while ensuring that customers continue to receive high-quality water services at affordable prices.
“The European water sector has made significant progress in recent years, but there is still much more room to promote full-cost recovery, environmental sustainability and information transparency across Europe”
“WAREG has to keep strengthening its relationships with Member Countries and the cooperation with academics and EU Institutions. I would like to explore new topics like consumer protection, transparency, data management and support more capacity-building projects”.
“I am a strong believer in knowledge sharing and supporting regulators. WAREG’s participation in group discussions and thematic workshops has enabled us to become a stable and serious actor in the water sector. I want to keep improving the technical expertise of WAREG and its efforts dedicated to research”.
“WAREG enables us to provide better services. Cooperation through WAREG makes us better regulators. Water will become more and more important, and the challenges of the sector will only continue to grow. There will be a strong need for expertise, independence and capacity building from WAREG”.