Clean water for all
Water shortage and droughts are a growing problem in many parts of Europe. Climate change and increasing water demand, if not properly addressed, will make matters worse. The Environment Council on 11 June urged all member states at risk to set up water scarcity and drought management plans. It called for stepping up water efficiency in all sectors. Fresh water should no longer be taken for granted.
Ministers supported the further development of the European drought observatory, now at the prototype phase. It will be tasked with forecasting, assessing and monitoring droughts and promoting the exchange of best practices.
They also stressed the need to promote water saving and water demand management through a suitable mix of tools. These include water pricing, smarter irrigation, water efficiency in buildings, agriculture, industry and tourism, as well as awareness campaigns.
Where preventive measures prove insufficient, it may be necessary to resort to additional water supply infrastructures, such as desalination and rain water harvesting. Investment in the development of new sustainable technologies to supply clean water should be encouraged.
Climate change is likely to magnify regional differences. More frequent and more severe droughts can be expected, particularly in southern Europe. Some member states have begun to suffer permanent scarcity across the whole country. As many rivers and lakes in the EU cross borders, risks and challenges are shared and solutions need to be coordinated.
Council Conclusions (pdf)
Webcast of press conference
Environment Council press release