The objective of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, Directive 91/271/EEC, as amended by the Directive 98/15/EU, 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 and wastewater from certain industrial sectors. The Directive has been integrated into national legislation with the JMD 5673/400/1997 (Official Government Gazette 192B/14-3-1997) titled "Measures and Terms on the treatment of Urban Waste Water". The designation of sensitive areas was initially performed in 1999 (JMD 19661/1982/1999 – Official Government Gazette 1811B/29-9-1999) and was updated in 2002 (JMD 48392/939/3-2-2002 – Official Government Gazette 405B/3-4-2002). The agglomerations with population equivalent greater than 2,000 inhabitants, fall under the provisions of the Directive.

The National Database of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Plants (UWWTPs) has been designed and developed by the former Special Secretariat for Water, in the framework of the requirements of the Directive 91/271/EEC, having the objective of the immediate and continuous monitoring of the implementation progress of the Directive in Greece, as well as the direct information of the public. The National Data Base is operational since 2012 and constitutes an important interactive tool, which is being used on a daily basis by the Department of Wastewater Treatment Control and Planning of the General Secretariat for Solid Waste Management of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, responsible for the operation of the infrastructure authorities and the public. The National Database, with the initiative and the support of the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, has been upgraded and enriched, presenting all UWWTPs and the agglomerations, whilst its upgraded version provides the capability of presenting the information that it contains in an advanced geographical environment.

Within the Data Base technical and operational data of the UWWTPs in Greece, information on the means of disposal or reuse of waste water and sludge, as well as the Environmental Terms of each UWWTP are stored and are publicly available. The competent authorities and the authorised users are responsible for the reporting of the information and the operational data, while the latter are being evaluated by the Special Secretariat for Water, which provides directions, instructions and support to all users. The compliance status of the UWWTPs is determined based on the requirements of the legislation and the prescribed for this purpose algorithm.

The Department of Wastewater Treatment Control and Planning as the national competent authority for implementing the Directive 91/271/EEC, and specifically the requirements of the articles 15 and 17, submits every two years to the European Commission, the Implementation Report and the National Implementation Programme, which contain all the required data relevant to the collection, treatment and disposal of the waste water in Greece.

The European Commission publishes every two years the Summary on the Implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive in the Member States. The most recent Report that has been published refers to the year 2014, Ninth Report on the implementation status and the programmes for implementation of Council Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste water treatment. According to this latest Report, after more than 25 years following the adoption of the Directive, significant progress has been achieved towards full implementation. This has led to a gradual yet important improvement as far as the quality of the European waters is concerned. However, despite the generally highimplementation level of the Directive, a number of challenges remain, such as:

  • Investing further in the waste water sector to increase or maintain implementation.
  • Gathering additional evidence on how IAS systems function.
  • Improving the quality and recovery of sludge.
  • Reducing the effects of storm water overflows polluting water bodies with untreated waste water.
  • Improving the connections between the basic requirements of the UWWTD and the Water Framework Directive.
  • Increasing the reuse of treated wastewater while ensuring the appropriate water quality. The European Commission has submitted an institutional framework proposal on the reuse of urban wastewater.
  • Optimising the energy consumption of treatment plants.
  • Ensuring the affordability of waste water services in the knowledge that the needs for investments in the water sector are broader than only for collection and treatment, as they also include drinking water, protection against floods and water availability in some regions.

These challenges and other findings of the forthcoming evaluation will feed into the Commission's reflection on possible further action. In the meantime, specific attention will be given to Member States facing difficulties in implementing the Directive and the reporting activities will be improved to ensure suitable and timely data collection and assessment.

In the context of the revision of the Directive 91/271/EEC on the treatment of waste water, an open public consultation on the evaluation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive was initiated. Concerning this, everyone had the opportunity to participate in the process until 19/10/2018. Useful information on the implementation of the UWWTD is available here.