EU legal regulations in the field of municipal waste water discharge and treatment are set out in particular by the Council Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste-water treatment (EU Official Journal L 135 of 30.5.1991, p. 40-52, as amended; and the Polish Special Edition of the EU Official Journal of 2004, Chapter 15, vol.002, p. 26).
The Directive is addressed to Member States and makes them obliged to achieve – by prescribed deadlines – the objectives as set forth therein. For Poland, the negotiations carried out with the European Community in the field of the „Environment” sector have been introduced into the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Poland to the European Union. This document imposed on the Polish Government the obligation to construct, expand and/or modify municipal waste water treatment plants and combined sewerage networks in agglomerations by the 2015 time horizon.
Implementation of the Directive requirement is carried out in stages, following its intermediate objectives, as included in the Accession Treaty, namely:
Provisions of Directive 91/271/EEC are now transposed into the national legal framework and those have been reflected in a number of the Acts and Regulations made in the field of water management.
On 16 December 2003, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Poland approved the National Programme for Municipal Waste Water Treatment (NPMWWT) which has been through the Act on Water Law introduced into the Polish national legal framework. The Programme is to serve the implementation of Directive 91/271/EEC with regard to the relevant transition periods. It is noteworthy that putting in order the sewage and water management and satisfying the needs of the public in the field of waste water discharge falls in the Municipalities’ statutory responsibilities, whereas establishment of the legal, organisational and financial instruments supporting the local Self-Governments’ activities in this scope is the responsibility of the Central Government. The National Programme for Municipal Waste Water Treatment was developed upon the „Information on the status of and plans on the projects implemented by the Municipality in the scope of provision of the urban areas and those designated for urbanisation with the combined sewerage networks and municipal waste water treatment plants (as of the end of 2002)” which were provided in 2003 to this end by the Municipalities.
The Programme includes the list of agglomerations including specification of the projects required in the scope of construction and modification of the combined sewerage networks and municipal waste water treatment plans. These investments are described in four Annexes of the Programme, i.e.:
On 7 June 2005, the Council of Ministers approved the Updated National Programme for Municipal Waste Water Treatment (U-NPMWWT).
The investments covered by the U-NPMWWT will be implemented in the following way:
The total implementation cost of the NPMWWT in 2005 - 2015 amounts to about 42.6 billion PLN.
The success of the Programme implementation mostly depends upon the initiatives as could be revealed by the Municipal Self-Governments and upon their ability to raise financial resources. High priority is assigned to the outlays to be incurred with the resources allocated to this end by the environmental protection and waste management funds. Credits and preference loans have been set up with the aim to secure financing of investments in this regard. Also, the Cohesion Fund provides opportunities for large agglomerations or their groups to obtain the investment resources required for water and sewage management. These instruments are aimed at encouraging self-governmental authorities to speed up implementation of the projects covered by the NPMWWT, i.e. to achieve an overall national environmental success.