Reports 2015/53

Municipal wastewater 2014

Expenditures, investments, discharges, treatment and disposal of sewage sludge. Wastewater fees 2015

This publication is in Norwegian only.

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This report summarizes the most important findings with regard to status of the municipal wastewater sector in Norway, and covers topics like expenditures and investments, fees, discharges of nitrogen, phosphorus, heavy metals, a few organic pollutants, treatment efficiencies, number of wastewater treatment plants, capacity, number of people connected, heavy metal content in sewage sludge and disposal of sewage sludge. 

In 2014 there were 2 676 wastewater facilities in Norway with a capacity of more than 50 population equivalents (pe). They treated wastewater from 84 per cent of Norway’s population. The share of the population connected to advanced treatment plants (chemical and/or biological treatment) were 62 per cent, while 19 per cent had mechanical or other treatment and 3 per cent of the population had direct discharges (untreated wastewater). The remaining population was connected to the around 330 000 small wastewater facilities (less than 50 pe and thus including small individual facilities), which normally constitute a sludge separator, possibly with some sort of filtration device in the end. 

In 2014, a total of 945 tonnes of phosphorus and 14 670 tonnes of nitrogen were discharged by wastewater facilities (≥ 50 pe) into the aquatic environment. Compared to 2002 this constitutes an increase of 4 and 24 per cent in regards to phosphorus and nitrogen respectively. 

The main focus in terms of wastewater treatment has from authority levels been directed towards discharges into the water basins leading to Skagerrak and the North Sea – the location of the most sensitive areas, with low critical loads towards pollution. These areas are bound by stricter discharge regulations compared to the rest of the country (Western-, Mid- and Northern Norway). This is also reflected in the statistics with noticeably lower phosphorus discharges per capita connected to treatment plants in the North Sea counties (0.06 kilogram) compared to the rest of the country (0.45 kilogram). The average treatment efficiency – removal of polluting agents by treatment plants – for phosphorus in the North Sea counties (91 per cent) is also higher compared to the rest of the country (37 per cent). The same picture applies to nitrogen, although the differences are less noticeable. It is particularly the counties of Oslo and Akershus which show low discharges per capita of nitrogen (2.04 kilogram) combined with high treatment efficiency (60 per cent). 

Totally, including also small wastewater facilities less than 50 pe and estimated leakage, the discharge from the municipal wastewater sector in 2014 is estimated to around 1 440 tonnes of phosphorus and 18 700 tonnes of nitrogen. 

For 2014, it has been roughly estimated a discharge from wastewater treatment plants (≥ 50 pe) of 24 kilogram mercury, 1 200 kilogram lead and 43 kilogram cadmium. As for organic material it has been estimated a discharge of around 45 300 tonnes of biological oxygen demand (BOD5) or 119 000 tonnes of chemical oxygen demand (COD). This corresponds to 10.4 and 27.3 kilogram per capita of BOD5 and COD, respectively.

For 2014, the total amount of sewage sludge used for different purposes has been estimated to around 132 000 tonnes, measured in dry weight. Approximately 86 per cent of this amount was used in agriculture, in parks and other green spaces or delivered to soil producers.

Municipal wastewater fees set by the municipal authorities are in accordance with full cost regulations. The fee level generally varies due to differences in type of settlement patterns and geographical characteristics. The connection fee is a one-time payment by the user at the time of connecting to the existing wastewater pipeline-system. In 2015, the connection fee was on average NOK 14 200 (VAT excluded). The annual fee was on average NOK 3 652 per year in 2015 (VAT excluded).

In 2014, the municipalities’ annual costs totaled NOK 6.9 billion. The costs in the municipal wastewater sector are capital costs and operating expenditures.

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