European Water Management Challenged by Climate Change
New incentives can help Europe reduce the amount of water that is wasted, according to the EEA report. Suggested measures include reconsidering pricing structures for water use or domestic metering. However, incentives introduced with other policy objectives in mind can also encourage wasteful behaviour, for example some governments subsidise water use or encourage water-intense crops in dry areas.
Farming Puts Water Management Under Pressure
Farming remains one of the largest pressures on Europe’s water resources, so agriculture and the food industry are major actors in significantly improving the situation. In the future, payments to farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy should consider their overall effect on water resources, the report says.
Energy production is another sector with a high impact on water in Europe. Biofuel production can be water intensive, while hydropower plants often divert water used for other sources. Extracting non-conventional oil and gas resources can also lead to water pollution. Careful planning can balance these demands against the needs of ecosystems, the report says.
Dialogue Between Water Managers Needed
Overall, river basins need to be further managed with constructive dialogue between the many stakeholders in the area. Public participation and the development of a strong knowledge base are paramount to engage into this dialogue.
The report states that the river basin is the best geographical scale for making accurate ’water accounts’– in effect asset management to balance the incoming and outgoing resources. Upcoming challenges for water resource management can only be met when water managers have the right information at their fingertips.