Improved risk assessment for strategic water management to reduce micro-pollutant emissions in the Baltic Sea Region

EU-Deal on UWWTD: A big step towards zero pollution in Europe

09 February 2024
Technical details

In a press release on January 29th 2024, the European Council reported a significant step in European legislation: A political agreement has been achieved regarding the revision of the urban wastewater directive (UWWTD)!

From the perspective of the EU project APRIORA, the provisions of Article 8 “Quaternary treatment” are of particular relevance. Even if the requirements laid down here primarily apply to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with a population equivalent of more than 150,000, smaller plants can also have a significant impact on water quality, especially in small receiving water bodies. In rural areas, the accumulation of several small WWTPs discharging into medium-sized water bodies has similar pollution effect.

The quaternary treatment step reduces the emission of micropollutants including pharmaceuticals and helps to reach the zero pollution ambition of the EU. While large WWTPs (>150.000 p.e.) are obliged to install quaternary treatment in future, a risk assessment shall be applied for prioritizing smaller WWTPs. If certain risk criteria are exceeded, an upgrade will be necessary. The formal adaption is expected until end of April 2024 and a subsequent ratification in national law in all EU member states, within in the next two years.

With this EU legislation, also APRIORAs objective becomes even more relevant and urgent: It’s time to equip authorities in charge of prioritizing smaller WWTPs with appropriate tools for this pending risk assessment, a priori!