Italy referred to court over urban waste water treatment
Thursday 21 June 2012
The European Commission is taking Italy to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for its failure to ensure that waste water from agglomerations with more than 10,000 inhabitants that discharge into sensitive areas is properly treated. The lack of adequate collection and treatment systems, required by Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste water treatment since 1998, poses risks to human health and to inland waters and the marine environment. Despite good progress since a reasoned opinion on this matter, in 2011 (concerning problems in 143 cities), at least 50 agglomerations still present shortcomings. This has led the Commission to refer the case to the ECJ. This dossier follows another referral for urban waste water treatment: the Commission had already referred Italy to the ECJ, in May 2010, in a separate case concerning larger towns (over 15,000 inhabitants), which should have complied with the directive by 2000. In addition, investigations are currently ongoing to assess the situation in smaller agglomerations, for which the deadline to comply was 2005.