EU Commission proposes regulation for the reuse of water

irrigation on a fieldClick to enlarge
The reuse of water is associated with risks to the environment and human health.
Source: Jörg Rechenberg / UBA

The reuse of treated waste water can help to reduce water shortages. Reused water can contain pathogens and harmful substances, however. On 28 May 2018, the EU Commission proposed a regulation, on minimum requirements concerning the reuse of water. It aims to protect health and the environment. The UBA considers there to be a need for improvement.

The objective of the proposed regulation (COM(2018)337final) is the definition of minimum requirements for the water quality of treated municipal waste water used for agricultural irrigation, and to therefore contribute to reducing shortages of water. In addition to the quality requirements, the proposed regulation includes a risk management approach and guidelines for improving the transparency of data regarding the reuse of water. 

In Germany, no comprehensive requirement to use treated waste water currently exists (UBA texts 34/2016 publication, in German). Despite this, EU wide regulations for the reuse of water are also relevant to us - not least as we are the consumers of foodstuffs from other EU countries.

To configure the use of treated waste water so that it is safe for the environment, people and animals, exacting requirements, far-reaching treatment processes and holistic risk management are all necessary. These have not yet been sufficiently ensured by the proposed regulation, however. 

In the questions and answers on the proposed regulation of the European Commission dating from 28th May 2018, we discuss the requirements of the proposal regarding the reuse of water and the areas in which shortcomings continue to exist.


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 water reuse  waste water  agriculture  irrigation  agricultural irrigation