Press Releases

    For information only - not an official document

    22 March 2017

    Proper wastewater management reduces adverse impacts on waters in the river basin

    Statement from the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River President for World Water Day, 22 March 2017

    VIENNA, 22 March (International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River) - Wastewater from homes, cities, industry and agriculture flowing back to nature without being treated or reused is polluting the environment in many regions. Without proper wastewater treatment, we are losing valuable nutrients and releasing dangerous substances which is threatening human health and having an adverse effect on water resources and ecosystems.

    Almost 16 million people in the Danube River Basin are not connected to public sewers and appropriate wastewater collection systems. An additional 10 million are discharging their domestic wastewater into surface waters, without treatment.

    A question of adequate infrastructure

    The work of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) has made a significant contribution to improvements in this area. Investments in urban wastewater treatment plants with minimum biological treatment technology and enhanced industrial technologies have helped decrease organic pollution significantly. Since 2005, organic emissions via wastewater have decreased by almost 50 per cent as a result of substantial development. Investments in urban wastewater treatment infrastructure have also resulted in a remarkable decrease of nutrient emissions. "Wastewater infrastructure  and wastewater collection and treatment have improved tremendously. Nevertheless, there are further  measures that can be taken and there is still room for improvement" says ICPDR President Peter Gammeltoft. By 2021, basic infrastructure facilities - either public sewer systems with adequate wastewater treatment or appropriate decentralized systems - will serve approximately 15 million inhabitants of the Danube River basin area.

    Contributing to achieving Sustainable Development Goals 6 & 14

    The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty. Goal 6 covers the entire water cycle; including specific targets on safely treated wastewater and good ambient water quality (6.3); another target requires safe disposal of all sewage (6.2) and another advocates integrated water resources management and transboundary water cooperation (6.5). Attaining Sustainable Development Goal 6 will ensure the safe disposal of sewage for all and, in addition, halve the proportion of untreated wastewaters and increase water recycling and safe reuse.

    The ICPDR as one of few freshwater River Basin Organisations (RBOs) in the world sees its role as direct contributor to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals which are part of a global agenda for the survival of the planet. "Indeed, with its work towards the reduction of nutrient pollution in the Danube, the ICPDR is improving both the ecological status of the river and the environmental status of the Black Sea. Thus ICPDR is also contributing to the implementation of Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development," said ICPDR President Peter Gammeltoft.  

    "We encourage you to be more water-issues aware on World Water Day and beyond! "he added.

    * *** *

    For more information, please contact:

    Hélène Masliah-Gilkarov
    Public Participation & Communication
    ICPDR Secretariat at UNOV
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4373
    Fax: (+43-1) 26060-5895
    Mobile: (+43 676) 845 200 220
    E-mail: helene.masliah-gilkarov[at]