The EUSDR Priority Area 4 – Water Quality in cooperation with the International Commission of the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), the Danube Water Programme (DWP) and the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC) organised a stakeholder workshop on Sludge management in the Danube Region for a greener EU on 10 June 2021 with the assistance of the Danube Strategy Point and back to back with the 21st Steering Group meeting. The workshop was awarded a Green Week Partner Event label.
Recognizing the development of waste water treatment in the Danube Region and consequently the growing need for sewage sludge treatment and recovery, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, Priority Area 4 – Water Quality, supported by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade initiated in 2020 the elaboration of a preparatory study on sewage sludge treatment and recovery in the Danube Region.
The study was carried out by TRENECON Consulting and Planning Ltd, finalized in March 2021 and its content was consulted with countries of the Danube Region within the framework of the Steering Group of EUSDR PA4 – Water Quality. The study provides an overview on the information available on the Danube countries’ sludge management, the best practices and difficulties and recommendations for future steps to be taken.
The event was highly informative, it provided an opportunity to hear the latest developments from DG Environment experts regarding the evaluation process of the Sewage Sludge Directive and the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. 103 people registered to the event from 17 countries and 80 experts participated.
Participants benefited also from the experience of sludge management policy from Germany, Romania Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, which was presented and discussed during the event. Furthermore, the newest technology and innovation experiences from other five countries (Austria, Ireland, Hungary, Norway and Spain) were presented enabling discussions to ensure information exchange.
The workshop came quite timely due to the ongoing public consultation related to sewage sludge. It proved that the issue of sludge is specifically important as it has high energy content and contains several materials, notably phosphorus, that are important input materials for the chemical industry and agriculture. It is truly relevant considering the European Green Deal. The presentations showed that the situation related to sewage sludge management is varying across the Danube Region. In some countries advanced waste water treatment and sludge management practices exist while in others the establishment of the waste water treatment facilities is still the main challenge.
The final take-away messages were expressed by participants and included source control, resource efficiency, sustainability, sludge drying reed beds, useful nutrients, economy etc.
The discussion shall continue in the upcoming period, and similar discussions might be planned.
Presentations are available here