Sanitation and Europe

European Directives: sanitation directive (91/271), Framework Directive

From Europe to the Walloon Region


The influence of human activity on our water quality is nothing new. However, the demographic pressure on the receiving environment keeps getting bigger. The degradation of our surface water leads to steadily more visible impacts on wildlife. Water needs increasingly expensive treatments in order to meet the requirements for its uses.

European Union's reaction

Regarding urban wastewater treatment, European scientific experts suggested a programme the European Directorate-General Environment explained to each Member State of the European Union. At the outcome of the consultation, the European Parliament adopted the Directive 91/271/EEC, published in 1991.

Other directives are also related to this issue: the bathing water directive, the water framework directive, etc.

In case of failure to comply with these directives, the European Commission is likely to start a formal notice procedure at the end of which penalties may be imposed on the State at fault.

Application in the Walloon Region

In order to do it, the Walloon Region took a series of regulations, among which the adoption by the Walloon Parliament of a decree instituting the Société Publique de Gestion de l'Eau (SPGE).

The SPGE must therefore be considered as a tool the Government created to answer the European Directives, which try to protect our water resources against human pollution. In this context, it mainly takes action in two sectors:

  • the household wastewater sanitation (treatment, catchment and draining);

  • the protection of the groundwater used as drinking water.