Consumers are prevented from using water efficiency measures

Water consumers in Europe are being prevented from using devices that can substantially cut their water consumption, due high prices and a lack of information on the technology, according to a new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Households account for most of the water consumption in urban areas, using between half and a third of their water for flushing toilets, bathing and showering, all of which could be cut using equipment such as reduced-volume toilet flushes and water-saving devices on taps, says the Agency’s report, Sustainable water use in Europe – Part 2: Demand management. However, these are not employed widely.

The report’s recommendations also include metered charging of household water use, which could lead to immediate savings in water use of 10 to 25%, and a reduction in leakage from the distribution network. In Albania, for example, the network loses 75% of its water through leakage, a situation which is not helped by the high cost of tracing and repairing leaks.

The report also looks at industrial and agricultural uses of water, stressing concern, in particular, over the marked increase in irrigation for arable farming over the past 15 years. The importance of the direct reuse of waste water for irrigation is increasing in Mediterranean countries, and the report finds that standards and guidelines are urgently required. There is also a need for economic incentives to establish new programmes for uses of water not requiring high water quality.

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