The structure of the European water sector is largely influenced by the detailed European legislative framework concerning drinking water, urban wastewater collection and treatment, and sludge disposal and treatment. The European Parliament recently approved the recast Drinking Water Directive (DWD). This panel aims to analyze the potential impact of the DWD provisions from a regulatory perspective, as well as the possible approaches to its implementation in EU Member States, and more generally the role played by regulators in ensuring effective adoption of European legislation in the water sector. The European Commission has started an assessment process to review the current legislation on urban wastewater and sludge use, according to the new circular economy paradigm. Particular attention will be dedicated to the impact assessment of the Urban Water and Wastewater Treatment Directive and the Sewage Sludge Directive, and to some of the best approaches to their reform.
This panel will focus on the green transition and the actions taken by regulators to improve circular economy‐ based activities in the water sector, such as energy saving, recovery of raw materials and energy production from sewage sludge, water reuse, reducing plastic consumption, and other related issues. In several European countries economic regulators have developed well-defined reward tools to incentivize utilities to offer products and services with positive environmental externalities, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This could lead to renewed water tariff policies, aimed at including tax items in the periodical water expenditure for households and businesses, to recover those costs that are not strictly related to the volumes of water sold.
This panel will be focused on innovation achieved by water companies through specific regulatory tools. According to literature and practical experience, utilities’ innovation can be directly promoted by means of funds collected through regulatory tariffs, or by means of derogations to existing rules in cases where utilities aim to renew their operations and strategies. However, innovation can also be stimulated indirectly through output-based regulation, whereby water regulatory authorities set targets for utilities to achieve specific results (for instance standard levels of water leakages).
This panel will focus on some of the main challenges, achievements and urgent needs in the water and wastewater sector in EU Candidate Countries, and the role of national regulators in implementing the EU legislative acquis on water. The regulators of some of these Countries are Members of WAREG, the European Association of water and wastewater Regulatory Authorities.
In this session the main points raised in each of the 4 thematic panels will be outlined by the moderators and openly discussed in a roundtable and final conclusions will be drawn.