On 17 July 2006, the European Commission introduced a proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council concerning norms about the environmental quality on water policy and amending Directive 2000/60/EC. On 16 December 2008, Parliament and Council approved the Directive (DPS-001).
This Directive on Priority Substances follows article 16 of the Water Framework Directive, which stipulates that restrictions should be determined for these priority substances. For this purpose, the European Commission drew up in 2001 a first list with a norm proposal for 33 priority substances. The new Directive may affect decentralised authorities with respect to water purification, as new demands for the purification of water are imposed.
The supplementary Directive focuses on 33 contaminating substances. By 2018, Member states should have made progress to achieve the maximum allowed concentrations and the annual average of the 13 priority hazardous substances. Cadmium, lead, mercury and chemical compounds with these elements are part of these 13 substances. The European Commission will draw up a report of the progress made in this area, as well as on the basis of an inventory of the emissions, discharges in water and losses in the member states. The list of priority substances and of the corresponding allowed concentrations should be revised at the latest two years after the introduction of the supplementary Directive. The European Parliament added 13 new substances (among others dioxins, PCB’s, biphenol) to the original list of the potential priority substances or priority hazardous substances. These 13 substances should be taken into account when the list is revised. Next to discharge – so-called mixing zones – the allowed concentrations of one or more substances and other priority pollutants may be exceeded, if and only if the norms in the respective body as a whole are respected. Member States can define the mixed zones on the basis of certain criteria. In harbour areas, the density of matter in suspense can be temporarily very high due to dredging.
On 31 January 2012, the European Commission published a revised supplementary Directive (COM (2011) 876 final). Highlights are:
- Extension of the current list of 33 priority substances with 15 other substances or categories of substances among which 3 medical drugs.
- Modification of the current list of priority substances with respect to environmental standards and/or their status (priority of priority dangerous).
- Additional rules, like a lower monitoring frequency, for dangerous substances of which the use has been prohibited but will linger in the environment because of their persistence.
- Rules on a watch list in which it is stipulated that in preparation of a next selection procedure a limited number of substances (10-20) is to be monitored on a limited number of locations in each member state.
The European Commission proposes the introduction of biota standards next to the existing maximum allowed concentrations in water. On the other hand and as expected, the Commission does not propose the introduction of sediment standards.
Some relevant documents:
DPS-001: Directive 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC, 86/280/EEC and amending Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (European Parliament and the Council)