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World Water Day: EU Water-related Research

Water research has been a major component of EU research since the late 1980s, covering a wide spectrum of water-related topics and evolving over the years in close correlation to EU water policy. Over the last 10 years, the EU - via the Framework Programme for research - has contributed an average of €130 million per year to water-related research.

Today, economic development, growing populations and increasing degradation of the environment all make sustainable exploitation of resources a priority, and no resource is more fundamental to our well-being than water.

Climate change will have a direct impact on human society, affecting the quality and availability of fresh water, increasing the frequency and severity of droughts and flooding, and posing a serious threat to the functioning of our economies and ecosystems.

With global population growth, urbanisation, pollution, over-exploitation and climate change all placing pressure on our water resources, especially in developing countries, it is more important than ever to recognise the interconnectedness of the world’s water systems.

Here are two examples of successful, EU-funded water-related research projects:

Source of spring water © Shutterstock

Healthy groundwater ecosystems essential for clean groundwater

Underneath our feet, below the Earth's surface invisible to us, but vital for our needs is groundwater. It is a major source of drinking water in Europe and plays an important role in several aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In Germany alone groundwater accounts for two thirds of drinking water. Groundwater however is not lifeless, it contains at least 2 000 known species and numerous microorganisms which help to clean the groundwater and improve the quality of drinking water. Despite its importance, both to us and the ecosystem as a whole, its protection has not yet been established in law. The study was presented in Nature Scientific Reports.

AQUAFIT4USE – Helping industry conserve the world's most valuable ...

In a 21st century world facing the twin challenges of climate change and rapid population growth, there seems little doubt that water is set to become the most precious resource on the planet. Its sustainable use is going to become ever more vital for human survival.

 

For more information:

European Commission's Environmental research related to natural resources including water

Research projects in the area of natural resources

European Innovation Partnership on Water