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Other Legal Acts on Water Protection

In addition to the WFD and the related directives setting out specific EQS, there are a number of other directives which supplement the WFD in different ways.

Urban waste-water treatment

One of these is Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste-water treatment^7 It aims to protect the environment from the adverse effects of waste-water discharges by laying down rules on collection, treatment, and discharge of urban waste water and the treatment and discharge of waste water from certain industrial sectors. A core obligation is to ensure that all agglomerations with a population equivalent of 2,000 or more are provided with collecting systems, that is, systems of conduits, for urban waste water.4® Where the establishment of a collecting system is not justified either because it would produce no environmental benefit or because it would involve excessive cost, individual systems or other appropriate systems which achieve the same level of environmental protection shall be used. Urban waste water entering collecting systems must, subject to some exceptions, be subject before discharge to secondary treatment or an equivalent treatment meeting certain requirements.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] Discharges from urban waste-water treatment plants must satisfy the relevant requirements of Annex I. Particular rules apply in respect to discharges into sensitive areas and less sensitive areas respectively. Areas should be identified as sensitive when certain conditions, relating to eutrophication, abstraction of drinking water, or requirements of other directives, are met. Before discharge into sensitive areas, urban waste water that has entered a collecting system must be subject to more stringent treatment.50 Sludge arising from waste-water treatment is to be re-used whenever appropriate.

  • [1] On the treatment requirement see Case C-301/10 Commission v United KingdomECLI:EU:C:2012:633 and the case law cited there.
  • [2] On more stringent treatment see, eg, C-438/07 Commission v Sweden CLI:EU:C:2009:196.
  • [3] [1991] OJ L 375/1.
  • [4] 52 These action programmes are ‘plans and programmes’ within the meaning of Directive 2001/42on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment [2001] OJ L 197/30. Joined cases C-105/09 and C-110/09 Terre Wallone ECLI:EU:C:2010:355.
  • [5] C-322/00 Commission v Netherlands ECLI:EU:C:2003:532, para 166.
  • [6] [2006] OJ L 64/37.
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