Water waste must end, says EC

Water use in the European Union could be reduced by an estimated 40%, a new report claims, despite the fact that Europe is considered as having sufficient water resources.

To address various environmental concerns relating to water shortages, including rising temperatures, the European Commission published a new report late last week outlining water-saving policies and mechanisms.

Water Policy in the European Union: Communication on Water Scarcity and Droughts says the new proposed 40% reduction target is nearly twice as much as previously estimated.

"In a world plagued by increasing water scarcity and droughts we must urgently put an end to the tremendous waste of water across Europe," said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

A study commissioned by the Commission estimates that water efficiency could be improved by nearly 40% through technological improvements alone, and that changes in human behaviour or production patterns could further increase such savings.

The Commission estimates that if water consumption continues at its current rate, that usage would increase by 16% by 2030. However, the use of water-saving technologies and irrigation management in the industrial and agricultural sectors could reduce excesses by as much as 43% while water efficiency measures could decrease water wastage by up to a third.

Some of the Commission's suggestions to improve water savings include compulsory water metering and promoting the installation of water-saving devices on taps,
showerheads, and toilets, which could greatly reduce water consumption by individual households.

Effective water pricing, cost-effective measures, water sustainability, and sustainable land use must also become an integral part of policy making in areas such as agriculture and tourism where all activities are adapted to the amount of water available locally, the report says.

"Water efficiency must be at the core of our policies. Enormous water savings are possible. Water-saving behaviours by European citizens and industry must be actively
encouraged and promoted," said Stavros Dimas.

Dana Gornitzki



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