The UWWTD aims to protect the European Union (EU) environment from the adverse effects of urban wastewater by setting out EU-wide rules for the collection, treatment, and discharge of wastewater.
The background of the UWWTD
The Urban Waste Water Directive (UWWTD), or Council Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste-water treatment, has been adopted on 21 May 1991 and regulates:
- Domestic waste water
- Mixture of waste water
- Waste water from certain industrial sectors
Since the adoption of the UWWTD, the European Commission (EC) has issued 11 Implementation Reports (from 1998 to 2021) and another revision of the UWWTD is undergoing in 2022.
You can find on the WISE platform the UWWTD Country Profiles with key data related to the implementation of the UWWTD in all the 27 European Members and as well as in Norway and Iceland.
The requirements of the UWWTD
The UWWTD sets the following requirements for the EU Members States:
- to collect and treat wastewater in urban settlements with a population of at least 2,000 and apply a secondary treatment on the collected wastewaters;
- to apply more advanced treatment in urban settlements with populations over 10,000 located in designated sensitive areas;
- to guarantee that treatment plants are properly maintained;
- to take measures to limit the pollution of receiving waters from stormwater overflows;
- to monitor the performance of treatment plants and receiving waters;
- to monitor sewage sludge disposal and re-use;
The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) sets the requirements for the European Union (EU) Member States regarding the collection and treatment of wastewater in urban settlements. These requirements are:
- Collection and Treatment of Wastewater: The EU Member States must collect and treat wastewater in urban settlements with a population of at least 2,000 and apply a secondary treatment on the collected wastewater. This means that wastewater must be treated to a certain level before being released into the environment.
- Advanced Treatment in Sensitive Areas: For urban settlements with populations over 10,000 located in designated sensitive areas, more advanced treatment must be applied. This is to ensure that the wastewaters do not harm the environment in sensitive areas.
- Maintenance of Treatment Plants: The EU Member States must guarantee that the treatment plants are properly maintained to ensure that they operate efficiently and effectively.
- Limiting Pollution from Stormwater Overflows: The EU Member States must take measures to limit the pollution of receiving waters from stormwater overflows. This can be done by improving the treatment and management of stormwater.
- Monitoring Performance of Treatment Plants and Receiving Waters: The EU Member States must monitor the performance of the treatment plants and receiving waters to ensure that they are meeting the required standards.
- Monitoring of Sewage Sludge Disposal and Re-use: The EU Member States must monitor the disposal and re-use of sewage sludge to ensure that it is being done safely and in an environmentally responsible manner.
The methods for monitoring and evaluating the results of these requirements can include:
- Sampling and Analysis: Regular sampling and analysis of the wastewaters, treatment plants, and receiving waters can be used to determine if the required standards are being met.
- Inspection and Auditing: Regular inspections and audits of the treatment plants and the disposal and re-use of sewage sludge can be used to monitor compliance with the UWWTD requirements.
- Monitoring of Operating Parameters: The operating parameters of the treatment plants can be monitored continuously to ensure that they are operating efficiently and effectively.
- Reporting: The EU Member States must submit regular reports on the implementation of the UWWTD and the results of the monitoring and evaluation activities. These reports can be used to assess the overall performance and effectiveness of the UWWTD in achieving its objectives.
- Environmental Monitoring: The EU Member States must also monitor the environment, including the receiving waters, to ensure that the UWWTD requirements are being met and that the environment is not being negatively impacted by the discharge of wastewaters.
In summary, the monitoring and evaluation of the UWWTD requirements involve a combination of regular sampling and analysis, inspections and audits, monitoring of operating parameters, reporting, and environmental monitoring.
Have a look at the following relevant links for more information on the UWWTD
This article is a part of the ‘Water Basics Series,’ a collection of pieces designed to shed light on the water sector and water regulation. To learn more about this vital sector, you can return to the main page of the series and explore other articles.
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