Water Reuse—Analysis of the Possibility of Using Reclaimed Water Depending on the Quality Class in the European Countries

Klara Ramm, Marzena Smol

In 2020, the European Commission (EC) defined a legal requirement for water reuse for agricultural purposes in the European Union (EU). EU Regulation (2020/741) on minimum requirements for water reuse should mobilize member states to implement solutions for the use of reclaimed water. This paper aims to examine the state of implementation of the provisions of this Regulation at the time of its entry into force. Based on desk research, the legal status of water reuse in EU countries, with particular emphasis on the issues of reclaimed water quality and its applications, was analyzed. The state of implementation of solutions regulating water reuse varies significantly across the EU’s countries. Central and Eastern European (e.g., Poland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) countries are in no rush to regulate water reuse in agriculture; some will take advantage of the derogation to gain more time to consider it. Southern countries (e.g., Greece, Italy, France, Spain) are the most advanced and have experience in practical implementations gained before the Regulation was introduced. However, they use different quality control parameters. For now, France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain have fully implemented EC Regulation (2020/741); Belgium, Hungary, and Italy have partially implemented it; Malta has implemented it practically but not formally; and Cyprus has implemented it in distributed regulations. It should be pointed out that the potential for water reuse in the EU is significant, and this process is needed due to climate change consequences for Europe’s water resources. Therefore, further initiatives are expected, including the implementation by other countries of the provisions of Regulation (2020/741) in the coming decades.

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