Water management crucial in fight against rising tide of ecosystem damage
Water must be managed within sustainable limits in order to stop the damage to ecosystems, says the European Environment Agency (EEA).
According to a report published today, pollution and excessive water use are harming ecosystems across Europe which are indispensable to Europe's food, energy, and water supplies.
Entitled 'European waters - current status and future challenges', the report brings together findings from nine other EEA reports published during the course of 2012 and early 2013.
The EEA say the importance of ecosystems are not constrained to biodiversity but also include the vital services they provide. For example, restoring a wetland is not only good for biodiversity but also water filtration, water retention and flood prevention.
EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade said: "Water is finite, and cannot continue to absorb limitless amounts of pollution without damaging the resources and ecosystems we rely on.
"Farmers, planners and companies need to cooperate more, to make sure that the combined pressures on ecosystems do not pass harmful limits."
The report reveals that less than half (48%) of Europe's surface water bodies are likely to be in good ecological status by 2015, and it points to agriculture as one of the main culprits in using water inefficiently.
The EEA also says that energy production has a high impact on water resources claiming that biofuel production can be water intensive, while hydropower plants often divert water used for other sources.
Flooding is on the rise across Europe according to the report, with more than 325 major river floods reported in Europe since 1980, of which more than 200 have been reported since 2000.
The number of countries affected by drought per decade has also increased, from 15 in the period 1971-1980, to 28 in the period 2001-2011.
The European Commission's Water Blueprint published this month, offered a number of solutions to Europe's water problems and today's report underpins the Blueprint's recommendations.
According to the report, incentives to reduce water wastage such as reconsidering pricing structures for water use or domestic metering are crucial.