June 7, 2017
Water matters. It is essential to life, the environment and to the economy. Ensuring water availability is, therefore, essential to generating and sustaining social and economic prosperity. Water is at the heart of all policies because it is the most important shared resource.
Our sector provides clean, safe and reliable drinking water to our customers and ensures the safe return of treated waste water into the cycle. Employing 542.000 people, we make a significant contribution to the European economy.
One of EurEau’s greatest strengths is that we agree to common positions and present these to our national and European politicians. Developing a common position challenges us to look at issues from a broader perspective and makes us work together better as a sector.
We are making the human right to water and sanitation, as recognised by the UN, a reality. In addition, we show how the water sector is transparent, engages with consumers and improves services to ensure affordability.
We are entering a crucial period in EU water policy. Several key EU water directives are set to be reviewed before 2020.
The first of these is the Drinking Water Directive. We have worked diligently to find solutions on the transparency proposals and the topic of materials and products in contact with drinking water.
The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) is another vital piece of legislation. It is linked to other legislation such as the Bathing Water Directive.
Through these directives, we have cleaner rivers and seas, and citizens are happy to use these as recreational areas. The UWWTD will be evaluated soon and we will participate fully in this process.
The 2000 Water Framework Directive improved the quality of water in rivers, lakes and groundwater resources, benefitting both the environment and customers. This lynchpin of EU legislation will be reviewed in 2019, giving EU legislators the perfect opportunity to further safeguard water bodies across policy areas; not just for now but also for future generations.
In 2015, the European Commission adopted the ambitious Circular Economy Package to stimulate European businesses and consumers to use and recycle resources in a more sustainable way. We support the recovery of nutrients through the revision of the Fertiliser Regulation and new resource management instruments through water reuse measures. Waste water treatment plants already recover nutrients through sludge production returned to land. New processes that can extract phosphorus and nitrogen from sludge are increasingly applied where it is not possible to use sludge directly as a fertiliser.
We need to be proactive, however. Although the Fertiliser Regulation seeks to significantly facilitate access to organic and waste-based fertilisers, sludge-based products are not yet included in these. Furthermore, bringing them into line with traditional, non-organic fertilisers will be a challenge. Incentives are needed to secure a market for secondary raw materials and to invest in the adaptation of all processes.
There are other challenges. The circular economy has an important role to play regarding water efficiency. This is vital, as water scarcity is something that all of us have to face up to. Scarcity can be addressed through the reuse of treated waste water in safe, cost-effective conditions. Reclaimed water (water destined to be reused) is safe, but the EU must legislate for relevant standards for relevant uses. It is of utmost importance that the standards are adapted to the projected use and defined in a regulatory framework.
We want to protect human health. We address issues concerning the management of water services or water governance as a whole, as the central focus must remain on human health. We are happy to deliver support and expertise at technical and governance level throughout the world.
Our members are often directly involved in decentralised cooperation initiatives which contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, specifically No.6 for clean water and sanitation for all. All this means that our customers have access to safe and clean water whenever they need it. Waste water is collected and treated before being returned to the environment. We have cleaner rivers and lakes. But we need to do more to protect our vulnerable water resources.
We work with EU policymakers and with our stakeholders to ensure that our water resources are effectively managed and protected. We do this by working with others to guarantee that EU legislation is the most robust it can be. This helps guarantee that we, and our children, and our children’s children will have access to this vital resource. This is our legacy.
We are very proud of the work we do. In our ‘Water Matters’ publication, we present EurEau, our work and the issues we focus on, as well as some of the challenges we face. Our members highlight topics that are high on their agenda from their national perspective. Through this, we shine a light on the triumphs and concerns of the water sector, the problems and how we address them.
Read the publication here.
Author : EurEau