The European Commission made a decision to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.
The Directive obligates the Member States that their urban areas properly collect and treat their wastewaters to minimise negative effects on water bodies.
According to the Commission, despite some progress and financial support from the EU cohesion policy, efforts by the Polish authorities have to date been unsatisfactory.
According to the Commission, over 1,000 agglomerations do not have a collecting system for their municipal wastewaters in Poland meaning that they go directly in rivers, seas or lakes without treatment. The country should have been compliant with the Directive since 2015.
Besides, Poland has not ensured that in its 415 urban agglomerations, wastewaters are subject to more stringent treatment when discharged in sensitive areas, in line with the Directive.
In September 2020 the Commission published the 10th report on the implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive which showed an improvement in the collection and treatment of wastewater in Europe’s urban areas but pointed to varying success levels between the Member States.
Untreated wastewater presents a risk to human health and the environment. It damages freshwaters as well as the marine environment by promoting excessive growth of algae that kills other life through the process of eutrophication.