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  • by Karma Loveday

Water operators publish European election manifesto

Public and private providers of water and wastewater services across Europe have published a manifesto ahead of the European elections on 23 May. Coordinated by representative body EurEau, the manifesto calls for the foilowing changes.

  • The water policy principles already enshrined in EU law to be properly implemented – including the Control at Source Principle to prevent pollutants entering water systems; the Polluter Pays Principle so polluters have to mitigate the pollution they are responsible for; and the Precautionary Principle on environmental safeguarding. “More needs to be done to protect and conserve our water resources and the environment since water is under pressure from many sources of pollution,” it argued. “In 2018, only 40% of our surface water bodies achieved good ecological status. At the same time, 25% of our ground water reservoirs showed some contamination.”

  • Support for long term investment in ageing infrastructure and adjustment measures to cope with climate change, including policies that support the Cost Recovery Principle.

  • A holistic approach, comprising European, national and local action, to address challenges effectively. “All EU legislation or policies – particularly on nitrates, pesticides and REACH – need to be better coordinated and implemented.”

  • The ambition of the Water Framework Directive to be maintained after 2027 and communication of progress to be improved.

EurEau pointed out that, over the next five years, those elected to the European Parliament will be asked to vote on important pieces of legislation that protect the environment and ensure that more than 510m consumers continue to have access to safe water, now and for future generations. New legislation it wanted to see included the following.

• Drinking Water Directive: “Water is essential for life. Our drinking water should remain of high quality and affordable for everyone. Operators advocate for the protection of water resources in order to reduce the level of purification treatment required in the production of drinking water and related costs for consumers.”

• Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive: “How we treat our wastewater impacts greatly on the quality of water resources. Contaminants must be prevented from entering sewers through the strict application of the Control at Source Principle in order to keep water affordable. This will also facilitate resource recovery and the Circular Economy, for which the EU needs to open the market to recovered materials. If pollutants do enter the water cycle the Polluter Pays Principle must be applied.”

• Bathing Water Directive: “Clean bathing water is good for health, is necessary for our environment and promotes tourism. The quality of our wastewater services has a direct impact on all this. The directive is a good example of successful implementation and will continue to deliver tangible results for years to come.”

• Water reuse regulation: “The reuse of treated wastewater reduces water scarcity and will be increasingly important in a changing climate. We want appropriate and affordable quality standards so that reclaimed water can be used in agricultural irrigation. This guarantees consumer protection and offers sustainable water management options to keep resources for drinking water production.”

• Common Agricultural Policy: “Agriculture and water are intrinsically linked, and both impact each other. The Common Agricultural Policy should contribute to keeping our water resources free from agricultural pollution. Payments to farmers must be conditional on compliance with environmental legislation. Sustainability tools and ecoschemes must be made attractive to farmers.”

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