EU growth threatened by water scarcity

12th April 2012

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  • Natural resources ,
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  • Adaptation



EU member states must improve water efficiency across all sectors, and cut leaks in supply infrastructure, if the bloc is to cope with increased water scarcity due to climate change, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA)

In the first of a series of reports looking at the impacts of water use in Europe, the EEA concludes that water resources are already over-exploited in many countries and that member states must take a more proactive approach to water management to balance the competing demands of citizens, industry and ecosystems.

Incentivising the adoption of more efficient technologies and the use of greywater, through taxes and subsidies, encouraging innovation in water treatment and setting overall targets for water use, are among the EEA’s recommendations.

It also calls for better implementation of existing EU regulation, such as the Water Framework Directive, and the integration of water into broader resource-efficiency strategies.

“Water resources are under pressure in many parts of Europe, and it is getting worse,” said EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade. “With climate change making water supply less predictable, it is extremely important that Europe uses water more efficiently for the benefit of all its users.”

One of the key issues in the past, according to the EEA, is that water rates have not reflected the costs of supplying water. “Putting the right price on water can incentivise more efficient use of water and technological innovation,” it states.

The EEA’s report came as WWF published a new tool to help organisations better understand the risks posed by access to water across their operations and supply chain.

The online “water risk filter” holds information on access to water in 235 countries. It uses information provided by water companies to identify any areas where water may be at risk and offers advice on how to mitigate that risk.


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