Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Water scarcity and droughts – a major concern for many areas in Europe

Balkans.com: The European Commission today published a report on the progress of Member States in addressing water scarcity and droughts. Despite more rainfall in southern European countries in 2009 than in previous years, greater efforts are still needed to stop and reverse the over-exploitation of Europe's limited water resources. An effective water pricing policy, water efficiency and water saving measures are essential to ensure that Europe has enough good quality water to meet the needs of users and to face the challenges of a changing climate.

….The balance between water demand and availability has reached a critical level in many areas of Europe. Water scarcity and droughts have emerged as a major challenge, and climate change is expected to make matters worse.

This new report shows that some Member States have begun to suffer permanent scarcity across the whole country. The problem is not limited to Mediterranean countries. The Czech Republic has reported areas with frequent water scarcity, and France and Belgium have reported over-exploited aquifers. For several years, the Commission has urged Member States to adopt policy options such as water pricing, improved water management tools, and efficiency and water saving measures.

A report made for the Commission in 2009 showed that the introduction of mandatory requirements on water using devices under the extended Eco-design Directive could bring significant savings. If all domestic water using products were included this could lead to a 19% reduction in total water consumption – a 3.2% reduction in the total annual EU water abstraction. Reducing the water consumption of energy-related products such as taps, showers and baths can also result in a potential reduction of 20% in heating needs, while changes in showering time, bathing frequency or use of taps can result in savings of 20 to 30%....

The Rhine flowing through the Canyon of Viamala, in Switzerland, from 1900

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