Pointers and priorities for water demand policies

Water efficiency


The prospect of greater pressures on water resources, along with the uncertainties due to climate change, require policy measures to ensure future security of water supplies. Keith Hayward looks at a new assessment from the European Environment Agency to help support policy progress with demand management.

Water policy, not least in Europe, has moved beyond reliance solely on supply-focused approaches. These drive growing exploitation of freshwater resources and expansion of networks. Reliance on these alone is unsustainable. Instead, demand-focused measures seek to drive down the quantity of water required. Achieving the same end result with less input, this represents a shift to a goal of greater water efficiency.

There are, in essence, two ways to drive down demand: price measures and non-price measures. A recent European study, the results of which have just been published by the European Environment Agency, has aimed to provide insights into how to implement such measures to contribute to a more water secure future.

The study included an assessment of eight European countries based on a literature review. It also included ten case studies of domestic demand to gather fresh evidence on the relationship between water price and consumption.

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  • Europe, water resources, municipal water