Regulation (EU) 2020/741 on minimum requirements for water reuse
Commencement: 26 June 2023
These Regulations provide requirements to the operators of facilities that treat urban waste water. The requirements include water quality monitoring and risk management for the safe use of reclaimed water*. This is to ensure that reclaimed water is safe for use in agricultural irrigation, providing high levels of protection for environmental, human and animal health, whilst also promoting a circular economy, adapting to climate change, and contributing to the objectives of Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy (“Water Framework Directive”). The contributions to the objectives of the Water Framework Directive include addressing water scarcity and pressure on water resources in a coordinated way throughout the EU. These Regulations apply whenever treated urban waste water is reused.
*Reclaimed water is urban waste water that has been treated in compliance with Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste-water treatment (“Urban Waste water Treatment Directive”) and further treated in a reclamation facility** as outlined in section 2 of Annex 1 of these Regulations.
**A reclamation facility is a facility that treats urban waste water so that it is fit for use in:
- agricultural irrigation;
- industrial water reuse; and
- amenity-related and environmental purposes.
While these Regulations are primarily aimed at increasing the use of reclaimed water in agricultural irrigation, they do not prevent Member States from using reclaimed water for other purposes. This is to promote and encourage water reuse as much as possible, providing it follows the same high levels of protection.
Obligations for reclamation facility operators
Before a reclamation facility operator* allows water intended for agricultural irrigation to be passed on, they must ensure that it complies with the following:
- The water quality meets the minimum requirements as set out in Section 2 of Annex I.
- Any conditions for the reclamation facility operators laid out in the reclaimed water permit.
*A reclamation facility operator is a person, representing a private entity or public authority, that operates or controls a reclamation facility.
The reclamation facility operator must monitor water quality in accordance with the minimum requirements for monitoring (laid out in Section 2 (b) of Annex I), as well as any other conditions set out in the relevant reclaimed water permit.
After the water has been passed on from the reclamation facility, the quality of the water is no longer the responsibility of the reclamation facility operator.
Water reuse risk management plan
The competent authority (an authority or body designated by a Member State to carry out their obligations under these Regulations) will establish a water reuse risk management plan for the purposes of producing, supplying and using reclaimed water.
This plan must be prepared by the reclamation facility operator, any other responsible parties, and end users. The plan must be based on the key elements of risk set out in Annex II and identify the risk management responsibilities of the reclamation facility operator and other responsible parties.
Water reuse risk management plans must do the following:
- Set out the necessary requirements for the reclamation facility operator (other than those already specified in Annex I with regard to water monitoring) to mitigate any risks before allowing water to be passed on.
- Identify the hazards, risks and preventive / corrective measures outlined in Point C of Annex II.
- Set out any additional requirements necessary after the water has been passed on to ensure that the water reuse system is safe. This includes conditions related to distribution, storage and use and to identify the parties responsible for meeting those requirements.
Reclaimed water permit
The production and supply of reclaimed water intended for agricultural irrigation is subject to the holding of a permit. Applications for permits or for modification of existing permits must be submitted to the competent authority of the Member State in which the reclamation facility operates or plans to operate.
The permit sets out the obligations of the reclamation facility operator and of other responsible parties. It is based on the water reuse management plan and specifies the following:
- the water quality class and the agricultural use for which the reclaimed water is permitted;
- the minimum requirements for water quality and monitoring;
- additional requirements for the reclamation facility operator, as set out in the water reuse risk management plan;
- any other requirements necessary to eliminate unacceptable risks to environmental, human and animal health;
- the date that the permit is valid to; and
- the point at which a reclamation facility operator is to deliver reclaimed water to the next actor in the chain.
Checks on compliance of reclaimed water permits
Holders of reclaimed water permits shall have their compliance verified by the competent authority by compliance checks. Compliance checks are carried out in the following ways:
- on-the-spot checks;
- monitoring of data; or
- any other adequate means the competent authority deems necessary.
If the competent authority finds that the reclaimed water permit is not being complied with, the competent authority will require all necessary measures to be taken to restore compliance as soon as possible.
In the case of non-compliance posing significant risks to human health, animal health or the environment, the reclamation facility operator will be forced to suspend the supply of all reclaimed water from the facilities in question until the competent authority has deemed that compliance has been fully restored.
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