WAREG participated in the European Parliament Intergroup event on the Revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, to present its guidelines on the UWWTD and highlight some key points to enrich the debate and effectiveness of the Directive under revision. In this article you can find an abstract of the main points addressed during the presentation by Professor. Guerrini on March 9th.
The Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD) was adopted over 30 years ago in 1991. While it has significantly reduced the adverse effects of wastewater discharges from urban sources, a revision was necessary to address shortcomings and new societal needs. WAREG welcomes the European Commission’s Proposal for a revised UWWTD, currently under discussion in the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, and is in the phase of drafting its own position on the UWWTD Revision, soon to be published.
The Proposal’s Objectives and some points about WAREG’s position
The Proposal aims to address several objectives, including further reducing pollution from urban sources, updating and including new limit values for pollutants, and aligning the UWWTD with the European Green Deal. The Proposal also includes provisions to improve the transparency of the sector by ensuring that relevant information is made available to the general public and enhancing the provisions on monitoring and reporting the implementation and compliance with the Directive.
WAREG participated in the European Parliament Intergroup event on the Revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, to present its guidelines on the UWWTD and highlight some key points to enrich the debate and effectiveness of the Directive under revision. The following are the main points presented during the event:
Implementing the measures contained in the proposed UWWTD can entail higher financial and environmental costs. WAREG acknowledges some concerns regarding the economic costs of the interventions and their feasibility in the indicated timeframes. The uniform implementation of the Proposal’s objectives will be complex considering the current state of the sector, the diversity between different Member States and within their own territories, and the efforts that will be required to implement additional treatments and energy neutrality targets.
Transparency of Information
The proposed Directive significantly improves the disclosure of information to customers. WAREG welcomes these efforts and stresses the importance of maintaining the transparency provisions in Article 24 and Annex VI. As implementation costs will be covered mainly by tariffs, it is paramount to raise and promote consumer awareness of the investment and operational costs of the sector and how they are covered. Public authorities must play a critical role in preventing risks of excessive increases, committing to explaining any potential increase to consumers, and monitoring the efficiency and results of those increases.
WAREG regrets that the Proposal misses an opportunity by not making any explicit reference to economic regulation. Economic regulation can contribute to the success of the proposed UWWTD by providing tools that allow public authorities to assess interventions correctly and ensure a successful implementation. Moreover, it can make adequate and up-to-date information available to EU Institutions and the general public, balancing potentially conflicting objectives and promoting affordability through efficiency generated by tariff regulation and OPEX efficiency. WAREG members can contribute to the efficiency and innovation of the sector through tariff incentives and innovation funds.
WAREG supports the direction outlined by the objectives set in the Proposal. Public authorities must play a critical role in preventing the risks of tariff increases and monitoring the efficiency of investments. WAREG reiterates the commitment of its members in the promotion, implementation and compliance with the EU acquis.