European Commission launches water efficiency blueprint

The European Commission has launched a blueprint to ensure enough quality water is available to meet the needs of people, the economy and the environment.

EU waters are failing in terms of quality, despite improvements in recent years, according to the Commission. Water quantity is of equal concern with water scarcity spreading in Europe and extreme events, like floods, increasing in too many Member States.

This week, the European Environment Agency (EEA) released a report which claimed that water pollution affecting the ecology of many of Europe’s lakes, rivers, and coastal waters is likely to prevent the water bodies reaching a ‘good’ status by 2015.

The EEA’s report said that water bodies are generally improving, but not fast enough to meet the targets set by the Water Framework Directive. It adds that only 52% of water bodies are predicted to achieve ‘good’ ecological status by 2015, according to Member States own plans.

Today’s blueprint has called for Europe’s Member States to step up efforts to deal with old and emerging challenges, including water pollution, water abstraction for agriculture and energy production, land use and the impacts of climate change.

“Strengthened measures are needed to help the EU protect its water resources and become more resource (including water) efficient,” the Commission said.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “This Blueprint shows we have a good understanding of the problems we face and a solid platform to tackle them. The time has come to take action to deliver the full benefits of our legislation and create opportunities for innovative solutions in water policy and the water industry.

“What is needed is a sustainable balance between water demand and supply, taking into account the needs of both people and the natural ecosystems they depend on,” added Potocnik.

The implementation of the proposals outlined in the Blueprint will rely on the Common Implementation Strategy of the Water Framework Directive, which is an open and participatory process involving Member States, non-governmental organisations and businesses.

However, the analysis underpinning the blueprint covers a longer time span, up to 2050, and is expected to drive EU water policy over the long term.

Leigh Stringer

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