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Reusing water for agriculture and keeping our urban areas green  

EU cities and regions call for the proposed regulation on water reuse to be extended to green urban areas and suggest legal certainty formulas for operators and end-users

EU cities and regions request to extend water reuse to all EU Members States and to enlarge the scope of the proposed regulation from agriculture irrigation to urban green spaces. A third of EU's land suffers from water stress and water scarcity is a concern in many Member States. While climate change results in unpredictable weather patterns, it is expected that water reuse will have to palliate increasing droughts and shortfalls in the quantity and quality of freshwater resources.

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has adopted an opinion on the "Proposal for a Regulation on minimum requirements for water reuse". The opinion contributes to the new rules proposed by the European Commission in May 2018 to stimulate and facilitate water reuse in the EU for agricultural irrigation.

Rapporteur Oldřich Vlasák (CZ/ECR) said: "Effective water management is of particular importance as one third of the EU territory is affected by water stress. I therefore encourage the European Commission to enlarge the scope of the regulation from agriculture irrigation to include urban green spaces such as parks, gardens and sport fields, as well as for cleaning of streets. This will help to keep our urban areas green".

The CoR supports the EU's efforts to create a circular economy in the water sector yet it requests to ensure that additional costs and burdens are not disproportionately shifted onto municipalities, farmers and the general public.

Local and regional politicians request to improve technical aspects of the legislative proposal in view of avoiding unjustified burdens and hurdles for its effective functioning.

Cites and regions ask to clarify the liabilities of reclaimed water producers, considering also water cycle managers and end-users. Members have given support to extend to three years the deadline for entry into force of the regulation so that local and regional authorities have more time to ensure safe implementation of the new rules.

Local leaders request the introduction of appropriate standards for sampling and analysis, taking into account ISO standards for the quality of reclaimed water for irrigation in the different classes according to crop categories.

The CoR advises to extend water reuse to all EU member states. According to the CoR study Water Reuse – Legislative Framework in EU Regions, water reuse is only implemented in seven EU countries: Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, Greece and Italy. 

Next January 21, the European Parliament's ENVI committee will adopt the draft report on this proposal of regulation.

Background:

Effective water management system: an approach to innovative solutions – opinion lead by rapporteur Cees Loggen (NL/ALDE). Adopted in February 2017.

Quality of water intended for human consumption – opinion led by rapporteur Mark Weinmeister (DE/EPP). Adopted in May 2018.   

Photos of the Plenary Session are available here.

 

Contact: David Crous | david.crous@cor.europa.eu | +32 (0) 470 88 10 37