Support water reuse all over the EU beyond the 6 Member States in which policy tools currently exist, and embody the EU's efforts to create a circular economy in the water sector;
Ensure that additional costs and burdens are not disproportionately shifted onto municipalities, farmers and the general public;
Ensure that this regulation is consistent with other relevant legislation, not least the Control Regulation and other regulations governing food production;
Increasing the scope of the regulation to include the use of water not just for agricultural irrigation, but also for the irrigation of green spaces in urban areas, parks, gardens and grounds for public use (e.g. recreation, sport), which would be of considerable help in solving the problem of city centres becoming warmer during periods of drought;
Introduce 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;
Clarify the liabilities of the producer of reclaimed water, considering also the managers of the water cycle and the end-users;
Extend to 3 years the deadline for entry into force of the Regulation.
The European Parliament adopted its report on 12 February 2019, preceded by the vote in the ENVI Committee on 22 January. The EP accepted several CoR requests:
The point of compliance water quality would no longer be the responsibility of the operator of the recovery facility and becomes the responsibility of the next actor in the chain;
Member States could allow reclaimed water for other uses such as industrial water reuse and for recreational and environmental purposes, provided that a high level of protection of human health, animals and the environment is ensured;
ISO standards are introduced for compliance and verification;
If a biological indicator is not present in sufficient quantity in raw waste water to achieve the log10 reduction, the absence shall mean that the validation requirements are complied with;
The Regulation should enter into force in 2 years (the CoR asked for 3 years).
The provisional Interinstitutional Agreement reached on 3 December 2019 on the Regulation on the safe reuse of urban waste water for agricultural irrigation purposes was approved by The Permanent Representatives of the Member States to the EU (Coreper), towards the adoption of European legislation that will both save water and promote the circular economy.
The Council adopted it position at first reading on 7 April 2020 pointing out that the rules will help Europe adapt to the consequences of climate change. The regulation, which is fully in line with the circular economy, will improve the availability of water and encourage its efficient use in agriculture.
The regulation now needs to be adopted by the European Parliament at second reading before it can be published in the Official Journal. .
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS:
- notes that water reuse can be supported by means of various policy tools. At present, such tools exist in only six Member States;
- notes that the need for this regulation was triggered by the increasing water deficit in EU Member States, particularly with regard to agriculture, and efforts to save water. Ultimately, this regulation embodies the EU's efforts to create a circular economy in the water sector;
- points out that, based on the practical experience of those countries that already irrigate with reclaimed water, the investment costs necessary for the reclamation plants to obtain reclaimed water of class A quality will be greater than stated in the "impact assessment" section of the proposal for a regulation;
- considers it important to ensure that this regulation is consistent with other relevant legislation, not least the Control Regulation and other regulations governing food production;
- feels that general EU legislation should not restrict the concept of reusing waste water to agriculture alone; therefore proposes increasing the scope of the regulation to include the use of water for the irrigation of green spaces in urban areas, parks, gardens and grounds for public use (e.g. recreation, sport);
- considers that the main drawback of this structure lies in the fact that the end-user is treated as a mere consumer not responsible;
- calls for the introduction of appropriate standards for sampling and analysis;
- calls on the Commission to establish a definition of the term "outlet";
- Notes that a period of one year would not be sufficient to allow improvements in water treatment, equipment, operation, checks, risk assessment and regulatory alignment to be carried out.