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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Urban waste water treatment / Urban waste water treatment (CSI 024) - Assessment published Nov 2005

Urban waste water treatment (CSI 024) - Assessment published Nov 2005

Topics: ,

Generic metadata

Topics:

Water Water (Primary topic)

Tags:
water | csi
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 024
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: How effective are existing policies in reducing loading discharges of nutrients and organic matter?

Key messages

Wastewater treatment in all parts of Europe has improved significantly since the 1980s, however the percentage of the population connected to wastewater treatment in southern and eastern Europe and the Accession countries is relatively low.

Changes in wastewater treatment in regions of Europe between 1980s and late 1990s

Note: Only countries with data from all periods included, the number of countries in parentheses

Data source:

EEA-ETC/WTR based on Member States data reported to OECD/EUROSTAT Joint Questionare 2002

Downloads and more info

Changes in wastewater treatment in countries of Europe between 1980s and late 1990s (Nordic)

Note: Only countries with data at least for one year reported here

Data source:

EUROSTAT Newcronos

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Changes in wastewater treatment in countries of Europe between 1980s and late 1990s (Western)

Note: Only countries with data at least for one year reported here

Data source:

EUROSTAT Newcronos

Downloads and more info

Changes in wastewater treatment in countries of Europe between 1980s and late 1990s (East)

Note: N/A

Data source:

EUROSTAT Newcronos

Downloads and more info

Changes in wastewater treatment in countries of Europe between 1980s and late 1990s (AC)

Note: N/A

Data source:

EUROSTAT Newcronos

Downloads and more info

Changes in wastewater treatment in countries of Europe between 1980s and late 1990s (Southern)

Note: N/A

Data source:

EUROSTAT Newcronos

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Over the past twenty years, marked changes have occurred in the proportion of the population connected to wastewater treatment and in the technology involved. Implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment (UWWT) Directive has largely influenced this trend.  Decreases in discharges in eastern Europe (new Member States) and the Accession Countries are due to economic recession resulting in a decline in polluting manufacturing industries.

Most of the population in the Nordic countries are connected to wastewater treatment plants with the highest levels of tertiary treatment, which efficiently removes nutrients (phosphorus or nitrogen or both) and organic matter. More than half of the wastewater in central European countries receives tertiary treatment. Only around half of the population in southern and eastern countries and the Accession countries is currently connected to any wastewater treatment plants and 30 to 40 % to secondary or tertiary treatment. This is because policies to reduce eutrophication and improve bathing water quality were implemented earlier in the Nordic and central than in the southern, eastern and Accession countries.

A comparison with indicators CSI 19 and CSI 20 shows that these changes in treatment have improved surface water quality, including bathing water quality, with a decrease in the concentrations of orthophosphates, total ammonium and organic matter over the past ten years. Member States have made considerable investments to achieve these improvements but most of them are however late in implementing the UWWT Directive or have interpreted it differently and in ways that differ from the Commission's view.

 

Specific policy question: What is the level of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/ECC) implementation in large cities of the EU Member States?

Number of EU-15 agglomerations of more than 150 000 p.e. by treatment level, situation on 1st January 2002

Note: 169 of the 526 cities with population equivalent more than 150 000 did not have a sufficient standard of treatment on 1st of January 2002 to meet the objectives of the UWWT Directive

Data source:

DGENV 2004

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Percentage of total load in sensitive area, and percentage of load in sensitive area by country, not conforming to the requirements of the urban waste water treatment directive, 2001

Note: DE and NL have designated their whole territory as a sensitive area, but are not in conformity with the goal of 75% reduction of N

Data source:

DGENV 2004

Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Only two EU Member States, Denmark and Austria, were close to conforming to the requirements of the UWWT Directive regarding their large agglomerations discharging into sensitive areas by the end of 2001. Germany and the Netherlands have designated their whole territory as a sensitive area, but are not in conformity with the goal of 75% reduction of nitrogen. 158 of the 526 cities with population equivalents greater than 150 000 did not have a sufficient standard of treatment by the end of 2001 to meet the objectives of the UWWT Directive.

The UWWT Directive requires Member States to identify water bodies as sensitive areas according, for example, to the risk of eutrophication occurring. Wastewater treatment facilities with tertiary treatment had to be available in all agglomerations with a population equivalent greater than 10 000 discharging into a sensitive area by 31 December 1998.

For large cities with population equivalents greater than 150 000, Member States were required to provide more advanced (than secondary) treatment by 31 December 1998 when discharging into sensitive areas, and at least secondary treatment by 31 December 2000 for those discharging into 'normal' waters. However, on 1 January 2002, 158 of the 526 cities with population equivalents greater than 150 000 did not have a sufficient standard of treatment, of which 67 in normal areas, 91 in sensitive areas and with a lack of reporting data for 11. Moreover 25 agglomerations had no treatment at all, including Milan, Cork, Barcelona and Brighton. The situation has since improved, partly due to more comprehensive reporting to the Commission, partly to real improvements in treatment; some of the cities made the necessary investment during 1999-2002, others plan to complete work soon.

An additional threat to the environment comes from the disposal of the sewage sludge produced in the treatment plants. The increase in the proportion of the population connected to wastewater treatment, as well as in the level of treatment, leads to an increase in the quantities of sewage sludge. This has to be disposed of, mainly by spreading on soils, to landfills or by incineration. These disposal routes can transfer pollution from water to soil or air and should be taken into account in other relevant policy implementation processes. 

 

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Peter Kristensen

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 2 years in October-December (Q4)
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