High cleaning costs no excuse for dirty water, Italy told

Failure to properly treat waste water from a number of communes because doing so would be too expensive has landed Italy in trouble with the European Court of Justice.

Commission v Italy

Urban Waste Water

The European Court of Justice has held that by failing to take measures to ensure that at the relevant time urban waste water from the agglomeration of several communes in the province of Varèse was subjected to more rigorous treatment than the secondary treatment or equivalent envisaged in Article 4 of Directive 91/271/EEC on urban waste water treatment, Italy failed in its obligations under Articles 5(2) and (5) of the Directive.

Nothing submitted by the Italian government indicated that urban waste water in the zone of the Olona river basin was subjected to such more rigorous treatment.

The argument of the Italian government relating to the considerable funds that would be needed to build the purification station in conformity with the requirements of the Directive was rejected by the Court, as Member States cannot use practical or administrative difficulties to justify their non-observance of Community obligations within the correct timeframe. The same applies to financial difficulties.

The text of the case is available in French at the following link.

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