With a view to preventing water shortages in the EU, Euro-MPs approved Wednesday the Water Reuse Regulation, which defines for the first time minimum requirements at European level for reclaimed water.
With water scarcity an increasingly big problem for many Member States, the new law defines minimum requirements at European level for urban wastewater that has been treated in a reclamation plant, to be used for agricultural purposes in a safe way, protecting people and the environment. The measure was adopted without a vote at the opening of the Strasbourg plenary session.
The new rules aim to ensure that treated wastewater is more broadly reused in order to limit use from water bodies and groundwater. The fall in groundwater levels, due in particular to agricultural irrigation, but also industrial use and urban development, is one of the main threats to the EU water environment.
"Today marks another important milestone towards the transition to a circular economy for water resources. In this way, step by step, we are bringing concrete results for the environment", said the rapporteur Simona Bonafe MEP.
She added: "We could potentially reuse 6.6 billion cubic metres of water by 2025, compared to the current 1.1 billion cubic metres per year. That would require an investment of less than EUR 700 million and would enable us to reuse more than half of the current volume of water coming from EU wastewater treatment plants theoretically available for irrigation, avoiding more than 5 % of direct extraction from water bodies and groundwater."
The adopted measures are now due to enter into force on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and they will apply three years after entry into force.