Water efficiency and water saving measures need to be addressed to ensure continued supply of good quality water© Griszka Niewiadomski
Water scarcity and droughts - a major concern for many areas in Europe
The European Commission published on 18 May a report on the progress of Member States in addressing water scarcity and droughts. Despite more rainfall in southern European countries in 2009 than in previous years, greater efforts are still needed to stop and reverse the over-exploitation of Europe's limited water resources. An effective water pricing policy, water efficiency and water saving measures are essential to ensure that Europe has enough good quality water to meet the needs of users and to face the challenges of a changing climate.
The JRC contributes to the Commission's preparatory activities in view of the 2012 water scarcity and droughts policy review with the development of the prototype of the European Drought Observatory. The European Drought Observatory (EDO) will give access to drought information from various sources from continental overview level to national and regional level through monitoring and detection of drought events, thus contributing to preparedness and early warning on droughts in Europe. The current version of the EDO map server is available at http://edo.jrc.ec.europa.eu/. In addition, the JRC supports the Water Scarcity and Droughts Expert Network within the Common Implementation Strategy of the Water Framework Directive in the development and evaluation of drought indicators in Europe.
The balance between water demand and availability has reached a critical level in many areas of Europe. Water scarcity and droughts have emerged as a major challenge, and climate change is expected to make matters worse. This new report shows that some Member States have begun to suffer permanent scarcity across the whole country. The problem is not limited to Mediterranean countries: the Czech Republic has reported areas with frequent water scarcity, and France and Belgium have reported over-exploited aquifers.