The European Commission has set out a water reuse action plan for Europe, identifying initiatives that it will pursue over the coming two years in order to promote further uptake of reuse across the continent.
The Commission intends to release a guidance document this year to provide recommendations on how water reuse can be better integrated in water planning and management and be considered systematically in the implementation of EU legislation such as the Water Framework Directive and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.
According to the Commission, the actions in the plan ‘will focus on overcoming the main barriers to the uptapped potential for water reuse wherever it is cost-efficient and safe for health and the environment.’ It says one of the main barriers to wider reuse of wastewater is the lack of a coherent and comprehensive legislative framework within the EU. The Commission therefore plans to propose legislation for minimum requirements for water reuse in irrigation and aquifer recharge at the start of 2017. A technical proposal for this is being developed by the EU’s Joint Research Centre.
The Commission noted that EU funding for water reuse infrastructure is already available under the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. It said that it will encourage member states to make use of these opportunities and prioritise water reuse investments in their agreed operational programmes for implementing EU requirements.
The Commission also noted that industrial water reuse is already common in many sectors, but said that it intends to look into further integrating reuse in the best available techniques reference documents under the Industrial Emissions Directive.
The Commission also highlighted that water reuse already features in Europe’s research and innovation activities. There are a number of groups within the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water, and the Commission stated that water reuse will remain a priority for the EIP on Water in the coming years. It added that there is also support for water reuse innovation through the European Regional Development Fund, LIFE (Programme for the Environment and Climate Action), and within the new work programme of the Horizon 2020 initiative.
Announcement of the actions on water reuse formed part of the new circular economy packaged launched by the Commission.
- water reuse, regulation, Europe