Portugal has been criticized by the European Commission for poor implementation of the European Union's Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.

The country has been referred back to the European Court of Justice after failing to fully implement improvements that would help protect the health of its citizens and the environment.

The Court previously ruled in 2009 that Portugal was failing in its obligation to collect, treat and dispose of urban wastewater in an adequate manner. It was found that seven agglomerations across the country with populations of more than 15,000 did not have the necessary collection systems and 15 lacked adequate treatment systems.

Although progress has been made since then, further work is required. According to the Commission, two agglomerations still do not comply with E.U. standards and the situation is likely to persist for several years.

In Vila Real Santo AntÛnio, three districts are still not connected to the collection and treatment system. In Matosinhos, the Commission said that work has not yet started on upgrades to the treatment plant. The new system will not be ready until late 2017 at the earliest and until then, inadequately treated wastewater will continue to be discharged into the sea.

E.U. legislation required such works to be completed by 2000.

The Commission is asking the Court to fine Portugal a lump sum of EUR4.46 million ($5.69 million) plus a daily penalty of EUR20,196 ($25,800) until its obligations are fulfilled.