Consultation on "Beyond water quality: Sewage Treatment and the Circular Economy"

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I am pleased to announce that we are launching an EIONET consultation on a draft EEA report, “Beyond water quality: Sewage treatment in a circular economy”. Recognising that sewage treatment is essential to protect human health and the environment, it considers what is needed to move from our current focus on water treatment to a genuinely circular approach, generating energy and allowing resource recovery.

We invite your comments and suggestions to this report. It is quite cross-cutting: NRCs Waste and Water Quantity may wish to focus on chapter 3.

 Chapter 1           Introduction – prevention of water pollution

Chapter 2           Urban waste water treatment, health and pollution

Chapter 3           Energy and resources                           

Chapter 4          Systemic change: Zero pollution, circular economy

“This study focuses on sewage and the dirty water we send down sinks, drains and sewers. Left untreated, this waste water pollutes rivers, lakes, groundwater and seas. The treatment required to minimise pollution of water however, can lead to production of greenhouse gases and contaminated sludges, which can go on to pollute air, soils and water.

The combination of sewage and grey water, “urban waste water”, is usually treated in urban waste water treatment plants, but for the 11 % of Europeans whose dwellings are not connected to waste water treatment, individual treatment such as septic tanks or package plants are necessary. These too can pollute air and water.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Applying a systemic approach to sewage and waste water, Europe can move to a virtuous circle, minimising pollution and utilising the renewable resources provided by sewage and its treatment. Delivering this needs a range of approaches, including technology, infrastructure investment,  nature-based solutions,  changes in legislation and cultural acceptance.

With the ambition of the European Green Deal coinciding with the refit of Water legislation, there is now an opportunity to re-set our approach to the treatment of Urban Waste Water Treatment and set Europe on track for sustainable waste water treatment by 2050.”

This is a draft report and has not yet been through editing or graphical layout, so we do not need comments on these aspects at this time. We will be adding a glossary and an abbreviations list. Reference details have not been included in the talkback version of the report, but are available in “comments” view in the pdf version of the report which is attached for your convenience. In case you prefer to read a clean, “paper” version of the report, we also include a pdf without the comments column. Please do use the talkback tool for your comments, rather than email, as this allows us to review comments systematically.

The consultation is open until Tuesday 2nd November 2021.

For technical support, please contact EIONET helpdesk at:  

We hope you find the draft report interesting and look forward to receiving your comments. 

Thank you very much for your expert assistance. We really appreciate it.

Files attached to this consultation
Section Comments
Key Messages 14
Executive summary 10
1 Introduction – prevention of water pollution 17
2 Urban waste water treatment, health and pollution 31
3 Energy and resources 27
4 Systemic change: Zero pollution, circular economy 9