S&Ds lead fight against water scarcity and better management of urban waste water

Water scarcity affects at least 11% of the European population and 17% of EU territory. Since 1980 Europe has experienced more and more droughts, especially in the south. With global warming and more frequent extreme weather conditions the European Union needs a specific policy to face water scarcity.

Today, the environment and health committee in the European Parliament backed the report drafted by S&D MEP Simona Bonafè that would establish harmonised criteria at EU level for the reuse of urban waste water. It also calls for appropriate investment to properly manage water use and improve its quality.

Simona Bonafè said:

“We must move towards a circular economy, also in the use and re-use of water. The potential for reuse of water by 2025 is approximately 6.6 billion m3, compared to the current 1.1 billion m3 per year. That would require investment of less than €700 million and would make it possible to reuse more than half of the current volume of water coming from EU waste water treatment plants theoretically available for irrigation, avoiding more than 5% of direct extraction from bodies of wastes and groundwater.”

“This regulation will be a useful tool but we must ensure clear roles and responsibilities of all actors involved and the correct implementation the main risk management activities. In order to better exploit the potential for water reuse, we have given the possibility to member states to use reclaimed water, not only for agricultural irrigation, but also for other purposes such as industrial reuse or environmental and amenity-related purposes.”

S&D spokesperson on health and environment, Miriam Dalli MEP, said:

“Water is fundamental for life, for our ecosystems and also for a healthy economy. However, water stress is occurring in many areas, particularly in the Mediterranean region and parts of the Atlantic region with environmental and economic impacts.

“With the regulation voted today, we are setting EU-wide standards that reclaimed water would need to meet in order to be used for agricultural irrigation, with the aim of encouraging greater use of reclaimed water and contributing to alleviating water scarcity.

“We must respond to increasing pressures on water resources, promote water savings and ensure a high level of environmental protection.”