New Regulation and Opportunities on Water Reuse
Water scarcity, together with other climate change effects such as droughts, will have a direct impact on citizens and in our economy. Changes in water availability and quality will affect critical EU sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry, energy, and transport.
In order to address water scarcity and the consequently pressure on water resources, the new Regulation (EU) 2020/741 aims to guarantee that reclaimed water is safe for agricultural irrigation, thereby ensuring a high level of protection of the environment and of human and animal health, promoting the circular economy, supporting adaptation to climate change, and contributing to the objectives of the Circular Economy Action Plan.
This Regulation lays down minimum requirements for water quality and monitoring and provisions on risk management, for the safe use of reclaimed water in the context of integrated water management.
In addition, Directive 2000/60/EC mentions water reuse in combination with the promotion of the use of waterefficient technologies in industry and water-saving irrigation techniques, as one of the supplementary measures Member States may choose to apply to achieve that Directive’s objectives of good qualitative and quantitative water status for surface water bodies and groundwater bodies.
Water is an essential societal need but is also of great value in the EU economy. The EU’s water-dependent sectors generate €3.4 trillion, or 26% of the EU’s annual gross value added, and employ around 44 million people. Therefore, EU water policy is very important to European citizens and companies.
Water reuse contributes to the broader water sector which is a key component of EU eco-industrial landscape. The world water market is growing rapidly, and it is estimated to reach 1 trillion € by 2020. For this reason, water reuse also encompasses significant potential in terms of the creation of green jobs in the water-related industry, and it is estimated that a 1% increase in the rate of growth of the water industry in Europe could create up to 20.000 new jobs.
At present, about 1 billion cubic metres of treated urban wastewater is reused annually, which accounts for approximately 2.4% of the treated urban wastewater effluents and less than 0.5% of annual EU freshwater withdrawals. But the EU potential is much higher, estimated in the order of 6 billion cubic metres – six times the current volume.
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25 September 2020
23 September 2020