consumption in Madrid fell by 29% between 1992 and 1994. Thus, 100 million
cubic metres of water have been saved each year thanks to an intelligent
use strategy. This result can easily be reproduced and the solutions
are often very simple:
- if W.C. flushes used 6 litres instead of 9, domestic consumption
would fall by 10%;
- losses in water distribution systems are estimated on average at
30% throughout Europe and, in certain urban networks, leaks may reach
70 to 80%.
More rational use of water in the industrial and agricultural sectors
would also represent a major step towards controlling waste of this
research at this level concentrates on:
- the recycling of water and its substitution as a refrigerant, solvent
or precipitation medium in various industrial sectors;
- development of more efficient methods of irrigation in farming;
- prevention and detection of leaks and techniques for the renovation
of distribution systems;
- improved methods of management and coordination between the various
parties involved in the water sector.
Mains water: against mismanagement
The work of the COST European network on
diagnosis of urban infrastructures is combating the enormous wastages
and pollution risks which exist in much of the piping of distribution
Portugal: a careful textile sector
Water consumption savings of 10 to 15%, a
20% reduction in the chemical products used, lower costs for treating
wastewater… These results have been achieved in the textile sector in
Portugal thanks to technical recommendations drawn up by the CITEVE
(Technical centre for the Portuguese textile industries) as part of
a European project involving SMEs specialising in the finishing of fabrics.
In Southern Europe, which is faced with
a serious water shortage, the uncontrolled irrigation of crops wastes
water and accelerates the infiltration of nitrates into groundwater
reserves. A European project is developing sensors and irrigation techniques
making it possible to limit the amount of water delivered to the plants
to what they actually need.
Less thirsty plants
Many research projects on the physiology,
genetics and molecular biology of higher plants are being coordinated
at European level in order to better understand and harness their resistance
to drought and hence reduce their need for irrigation.