We have discussed the importance of water and its use in agriculture at length on this blog. More and more in recent decades, we are witnessing the effects of climate change, which will see rainfall decrease by 22% in the north and 24% in the south, forcing towns to run for cover. We have frequently discussed the fact that, as revealed by those working in the sector, the problem is not water resources themselves but rather the way they are wrongly managed, leading to copious wastage due to outdated water mains but also due to poor habits among all of us.
Another issue rears its head here: agriculture, which in this case is both a victim and a perpetrator. Indeed, as Legambiente explains, the agricultural sector alone consumes more than 50% of the country’s water resources, and in recent years it has undergone a grave crisis caused by drought.
Those of us who live in the West are used to a certain lifestyle, which drives us to consume 25% more than the Earth has to offer; we thus run the risk of exhausting the natural resources in our possession within a matter of decades. We have been talking about sustainability – a culture of saving and recycling plastic – for many years now, but when it comes to putting these words into action, it is often difficult to keep the promises we have made. And to think that it would take so little to live more sustainably. After all, not wasting water is a responsibility – we owe it to those less fortunate than us, who live in countries where showering is a daily problem.
On 28 May 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal that was accepted by the European Parliament on 12 February 2019. It defined strict provisions for the minimum quality standards to be applied to purified water in order to allow it to be reused for agricultural purposes. The proposal aims to ensure sufficient water supply during heat waves and droughts to avoid crop loss.
In addition, the Council has granted the member states flexibility in deciding whether or not to use this type of solution based on their own climate conditions. Moreover, these new regulations will be particularly useful for regions where the demand for water exceeds availability, especially because this method is undoubtedly preferable for the environment compared to transfers or desalination. The approval of the document allows the Council of the European Union to begin negotiating with the European Parliament and the Commission in order to draw up a definitive version.
For our part, we can only add that this also represents another step forward in the long march towards sustainability!