The European Commission has proposed new rules to stimulate and facilitate water reuse in the EU for agricultural irrigation. The new rules will help farmers make the best use of non-potable wastewater, alleviating water scarcity while protecting the environment and consumers, according to a press release from the EU executive.
Specifically, the commission has proposed minimum requirements for the reuse of treated wastewater from urban wastewater treatment plants, covering microbiological elements, such as levels of E. coli bacteria, as well as risk management and increased transparency, which would require posting information online about water reuse practice in member states.
“This proposal will create only winners – our farmers will have access to a sustainable supply for irrigation water, our consumers will know the products they eat are safe, and our businesses will see new opportunities. The biggest winner of them all will be our environment as the proposal contributes to better management of our most precious resource – water,” said European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Karmenu Vella.
Water reuse in the EU today is far below its potential despite the fact that the environmental impact and the energy required to extract and transport freshwater is much higher, the commission said.
Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, including severe droughts, are likely to have negative consequences on both the quantity and quality of freshwater resources, and the new rules are expected to contribute to saving the economic and environmental costs related to establishing new water supplies, according to the press release.