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Sustainable Landspreading

Project description and aims

The project (SWETE-Safeguarding the Water Environment Throughout Europe, phases I-V) seeks to build a common understanding of our regulatory approaches, build networks of experts and develop shared resources to enhance technical resilience, into the water environment arena (and specifically on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). SWETE phase VII and the 2021 Sustainable Landspreading project focuses on the study of the capacity of soils to accept contaminants from land spreading activities.

Effective water resource management, (both quality and quantity) relies on good forward planning and delivery based on data, information and professional judgement. It is essential that economic growth in each Member State supports planned sustainable water resource protection and utilisation.

Implementation of the WFD is dependent upon good regulatory practice to produce good River Basin Management Plans and to implement the associated Programmes of Measures in a timely and effective way. Major benefits could be achieved by identifying and sharing good regulatory practice available across the EU, using both conventional permits (‘hard’ regulation) and ‘softer’ non-regulatory measures separately or in combination.

The Water Framework Directive requires Member States to manage their water resources at catchment and water body level. This may require new thinking and ways of working in order to achieve the Directive’s requirements.

SWETE part 1 – 3

The initial project workshops will stimulate debate within a small cohort of IMPEL Members:

  • about the current state of play,
  • identifying where there are examples of good or best practice, ( particularly approaches to monitoring and discharge permitting, statistically derived quality objectives and permit limits, use of statistics in assessing compliance, risk analysis, and measuring ‘success’)
  • disucssing where there are clear gaps, and how to proceed to fill them.

The outputs of the Workshops and the Project Report are expected to provide the basis for a larger programme of work to be developed in subsequent years within IMPEL – to develop and promulgate throughout Member States the necessary good practice skills and techniques needed to ensure an effective water regulatory cycle.

As a result of the project:

  • IMPEL will have identified existing good WQ regulatory practice, weaknesses and gaps to fill.
  • IMPEL will establish a programme to develop and promulgate best practice, initially in water quality and ultimately water resource regulation providing common ownership of regulatory options and approaches to deliver WFD & IED.
  • IMPEL Members will share WQ regulation knowledge, efficiencies and linkages across the EU Water Framework Directive Objectives will be more readily achieved by Member States.
  • Member States’ Environmental Water Quality Regulators will be closely involved in strategic and local Development Planning decisions, as well as monitoring and reporting environmental water quality and discharges.

SWETE  – part 4

Following the three previous parts of the project, SWETE 4 will undertake a forward look exercise to develop proposals for future projects. Drawing on the Implementation Challenges report and perspectives from representatives of the IMPEL leadership team, specific areas to consider are:

  • A “blue IRI”
  • Compliance actions
  • Mining waste (a specific area of interest from the Commission – further details being sought)
  • Pesticides
  • Groundwater quality monitoring

The project will further consider how the knowledge sharing portal on basecamp might be expanded (or whether a different vehicle is needed) to meet the aspirations set out in the “IMPEL – the next generation” document.

SWETE  – part 5

The study will look at balancing the benefits and impacts of spreading materials to land, with a specific focus on farmland. It is necessary because of circular economy desires to support reuse of materials on land as fertilisers and soil conditioners and to ensure this support for reuse is undertaken in a manner that does not allow unacceptable and avoidable soil contamination.

SWETE  – part 6

The aim is to compare and contrast the different approaches to sludge management in different member countries and organisations. This will highlight common problems, solutions and areas of best practice as examples for others to learn from. The project will also take the opportunity to incorporate learning from the COVID-19 pandemic and how this impacted on sludge management across IMPEL members.

Sustainable Landspreading

Following work previously carried out under SWETE 6, the 2021 project will build on the results of the survey undertaken in 2020-21 concerning the environmental impacts of sludge on IMPEL members. This work program aims to better understand the capacity of soils to accept contaminants from landspreading. The 2021 project’s expected outcomes are:

  • Support reuse of materials on land as fertilisers and soil conditioners and to ensure this support for reuse is undertaken in a manner that does not allow unacceptable and avoidable impacts on soil health and quality.
  • Analyse the data in more depth and to have short more focused surveys and discussions to highlight particular concerns or best practice

Related files/information

Number: 2021/08-WP3, 020/12, 2019/09, 2018/09, 2017/13, 2016/09, 2015/25 – Status: Ongoing – Period: 2015 – Topic: Water and land

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