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Urban Waste Water Directive Overview

Latest news

  • 19/11/2021:Publication of UWWTD Country Profiles on the WISE-platform. Significant progress has been achieved, but despite the high level of compliance, a number of challenges remain, and the waste water sector continues to require significant investments and good planning to ensure sufficient collection and treatment. (See Press release)
  • 26/10/2021:Stakeholder Conference on the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive held as the last public consultation ahead of the publication of the UWWTD Impact Assessment and legislative proposal.
  • 21/07/2020: Launch of the Impact assessment on the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (see roadmap). The impact assessment will be published in 2022.



You can find more information under the following links:

The Council Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste-water treatment was adopted on 21 May 1991. Its objective is to protect the environment from the adverse effects of urban waste water discharges and discharges from certain industrial sectors (see Annex III of the Directive) and concerns the collection, treatment and discharge of:

  • Domestic waste water
  • Mixture of waste water
  • Waste water from certain industrial sectors (see Annex III of the Directive)

This is illustrated in the figure below:

Waste per industrial sector
(click on the picture to enlarge it)

The Directive requires:

  • The collection and treatment of waste water in all agglomerations of >2000 population equivalents (p.e.);
  • Secondary treatment of all discharges from agglomerations of > 2000 p.e., and more advanced treatment for agglomerations >10 000 population equivalents in designated sensitive areas and their catchments;
  • A requirement for pre-authorisation of all discharges of urban wastewater, of discharges from the food-processing industry and of industrial discharges into urban wastewater collection systems;
  • Monitoring of the performance of treatment plants and receiving waters; and
  • Controls of sewage sludge disposal and re-use, and treated waste water re-use whenever it is appropriate.


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