Skip to Content

Sewage treatment plant. Photo credit: Patrick Federi

Four German states are repealing rules on water purification

Sewage treatment plants in Germany are running out of chemicals. Four federal states are therefore taking drastic steps and they have been allowing the phosphate limit values ​​to be exceeded.

Published: October 21, 2022, 6:02 am

    Read more

    The European production of the “precipitants”, which are essential for the chemical cleaning of sewage water, has fallen by more than 50 percent due to the self-imposed energy crisis. A quarter of German sewage treatment plants have since reported delivery failures.

    The chemical industry currently has its back to the wall – more and more companies are threatened with bankruptcy. Wolfgang Große Entrup, General Manager of the industry association VCI, said in an interview with ntv recently: “The skyrocketing energy prices are hitting our industry brutally.”

    The VCI boss added: “We are therefore looking extremely critically and with deep concern into the future”. And that has serious consequences, not only for the employees of the affected companies but also for the public in general.

    Many sewage treatment plants in Germany no longer have enough iron and aluminum salts to comply with the strict guidelines for phosphates. The so-called precipitating agents, which bind the phosphates and are disposed of with the sewage sludge, are normally a by-product of the production of hydrochloric acid.

    This production, in turn, is in trouble. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, the production of hydrochloric acid is energy-intensive and therefore very expensive in times of high electricity and gas prices. Secondly, as the economy suffers because of inflation, there is also less demand for products that normally use hydrochloric acid in their manufacturing process. These are, for example, paints and varnishes.

    The German Association for Water Management, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) reported after a representative survey in September that a quarter of the sewage treatment plants had already reported delivery failures of the urgently needed chemicals. For October it was expected that the delivery bottlenecks would affect every second sewage treatment plant operator in the country.

    In order for sewage treatment plants to be able to continue to work despite the shortage, decrees have been issued in North Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, which allow the plants to exceed the phosphate limit values. Comparable regulations have been announced in Thuringia, and a corresponding decree is being prepared in Saxony-Anhalt.

    What does all this mean?

    Sewage treatment plants have to pay a wastewater fee to the state for discharging phosphorus compounds – which in turn is passed on to the public in the form of wastewater fees. The higher the phosphorus levels, the higher the fees. So water treatment could become significantly more expensive.

    In the long term, higher phosphorus discharges into water bodies, whereby the substances could reach the sea via rivers, could also lead to eutrophication. If there is a lack of precipitants, the operators can no longer bind enough phosphates from the wastewater.

    When this poorly treated water is discharged into rivers, the phosphates become a problem because they serve as nutrients for algae, for example. This in turn could deprive other plants and animals in the water of nutrients and oxygen. Some types of algae also excrete toxins into the water that are harmful to flora and fauna. If too many phosphates get into the sea, algae carpets can form there, which also block sunlight and thus harm other living beings.

    In this context one speaks of “dead zones”.

    Another problem

    Drinking water is also affected: Not only sewage treatment plants, but also the drinking water suppliers are reporting a lack of chemicals – the flocculants, which are necessary to free the water from so-called suspended matter, are also becoming scarce. This could have serious consequences. “In the worst case” without flocculants, the water could become cloudy, “which would no longer make it possible to supply it as drinking water,” the Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU) told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ).

    According to the VKU, the drinking water suppliers which are affected, are especially those who get their water from dams, for example. This water must be treated for suspended matter

    At the request of NOZ, the four federal states confirmed that they had issued decrees allowing the sewage treatment plants to exceed phosphate limits and added that the operators were required to report exceedances to the authorities.

    Higher phosphate concentrations in rivers are possible in winter because algae hardly grows in the cold season but if the emergency continues in the coming spring or even summer, it could become a major headache.

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    In 4 years, 343 terror convicts have been released in France

    ParisPrisoners convicted of terrorism-related offences are monitored by the judiciary and intelligence services upon their release. This has been a huge cost to French taxpayers.

    Green MP complains about ‘cold Bundestag’

    BerlinAnyone who dares to complain about gas prices, which have increased at least six fold in the last year, is denounced as a traitor in Germany. In reality, many families do not know how they will stay warm since they are no longer able to afford heating.

    Vlaams Belang calls on government to cancel WEF membership

    BrusselsIn 2022, the Flemish government will pay €175 763.87 in membership fees to the World Economic Forum (WEF) and 27 000 Swiss francs (about €27 300) as participation fees to the annual meeting of the WEF in Davos. This is according to Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon's response to a parliamentary question by Flemish MP Sam van Rooy.

    Human traffickers shoot at Hungarian police during highway chase

    BudapestTo keep illegals flooding into the EU, human traffickers are now willing to accept the deaths of police officers. During a chase on the Hungarian highway, alleged Iraqi traffickers opened fire at the police. In the end, the traffickers could only be arrested and disarmed by a counter-terrorism unit.

    Will Elon Musk be the game changer in Ukraine?

    KievTesla founder Elon Musk is once again becoming an important military factor in the Ukrainian theater of war. Musk has decided to take around 1 300 of his Starlink satellites, which previously covered the territory of Ukraine, off the grid due to financing problems.

    How an unverified mainstream media report almost started WW3

    KievAlthough his closest allies, the US and Poland, are certain that one of his rockets hit the Polish village, Ukraine's President Vladimir Zelensky insisted until Wednesday that his neighbour was the culprit. He has so far refused to apologize for the attack that killed two Polish citizens and destroyed a tractor.

    French NATO soldiers in Romania hungry, freezing, overrun by rats 

    CincuFrench NATO soldiers stationed at the Cincu military base in Romania bitterly complained to an investigative journalist about the terrible living conditions they suffer. They live in filthy prefabricated houses from Mali that are hardly heated, there are not enough toilets, and garbage is piling up in the camp.

    Poll: 7 out of 10 French voters demand tougher migration policy

    LyonRight-wing and even Macron voters are strongly in favour of stricter measures regarding the reception and management of migrants on French territory, but it appears that the president has been deliberately deceiving his constituents. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the authorities and the media to make people believe that denouncing the migratory invasion is an "extreme right-wing" issue.

    AfD’s Weidel outperforms top ‘mainstream’ politicians

    It is a small sensation that should ring all the alarm bells among the established players. According to a recent survey by the Wahlkreisprognose platform, AfD federal spokeswoman Alice Weidel is now the favorite for the job of chancellor in central Germany – ahead of incumbent Scholz (SPD).

    Iranian brothers allegedly spied on Sweden

    StockholmTwo Iranian-born brothers have been indicted for selling vast amounts of classified information – of an extremely sensitive nature – to the Russian intelligence agency GRU. For the Armed Forces and the Security Police, it will be extra embarrassing because the brothers held several important positions in the most secret parts of the Swedish security apparatus.

    Go to archive