EU Science Hub

Guidelines for better water reuse in Europe

Garden sprinkler
Dec 18 2014

The JRC has recently published a report which provides guidelines to implement water reuse in Europe, and analyses the associated technical, environmental, health and socioeconomic challenges to such reuse.

Given the lack of formal guidelines at European level to address the reuse of treated wastewater, the report compares relevant national and international measures. It also provides a risk-based management approach, and identifies needs for and barriers to technological innovation and regulation.

The report states that the convergence of water reuse regulations represents a very important challenge for the worldwide development of water reuse and its integration into urban water management. New regulations should be based on health and environmental protection, and should include treatment goals and adequate and affordable techniques for monitoring water quality. According to the authors, the economic viability of water reuse projects is another significant challenge that can be met by appropriate water management policies, as the value of reclaimed water is determined by the use to which it is put.

Background

Water recycling and reuse is one of the answers to the water challenges in the urban, industrial and agricultural contexts; it can help save energy and increase water availability, while providing a viable solution to climate change adaptation. Applications include the irrigation of public parks, fire protection systems, toilet flushing, food crops and industrial cooling water. Despite the water reuse applications already developed in many European countries, there are still a number of barriers to its widespread implementation.

The water sector is a large and key component of the European eco-industrial landscape. The world water market is growing rapidly, and is estimated to reach 1 trillion Euros by 2020. European water-related sectors operate worldwide in developing innovative water solutions, but often fail to reach their full economic potential. Unlocking the potential for innovation in this field could significantly contribute to job creation and competitiveness: a 1% increase of the rate of growth of the water industry in Europe could create up to 20 000 new jobs.