Water re-use in Europe – what do you think?

Thursday, 28 August 2014 print

Water re-use is not widespread in Europe. Most wastewater from urban treatment plants is simply flushed out into rivers and lakes. But increasing re-use would help us respond to the increasing problems of water scarcity and drought, while reducing the risk of contamination from wastewater and lowering treatment costs. Re-use of water also has a lower environmental impact than getting it from other sources such as inter-regional water transfers or desalination.

In spite of these advantages and the considerable potential for further development, there are several reasons why the level of re-use is so low, including:

  • Lack of common EU environmental/health standards for water re-use

  • Potential obstacles to the free movement of agricultural products that were irrigated with re-used water

  • Inadequate water pricing and business models

  • Low stakeholder awareness about the benefits of water re-use

  • Lack of public acceptance

  • Technical barriers and scientific uncertainties

The European Commission is launching a public consultation on a range of possible EU measures that would encourage the re-use of treated wastewater. We want to know what citizens, stakeholders, businesses, NGOs and public authorities think about the potential of re-use and obstacles to it, and what kind of regulatory and  non-regulatory  EU measures could effectively address these concerns and increase the uptake of safe water re-use in the EU.

Next Steps

The consultation, which is available here, is open until 7 November 2014. The results will feed into an Impact Assessment covering all key aspects of water re-use, including agricultural, urban, industrial, and recreational uses. In 2015, the Commission intends to present a formal proposal based on the evidence contained in the impact assessment.

Full text of the press-release