Water Mismanagement Aggravates Drought In Europe: WWF

BRUSSELS, Belgium

A new WWF assessment paper describes mismanagement of water resources across Europe as exacerbating anticipated droughts, calling for European Union (EU) Member State governments to take emergency measures to tackle droughts, mostly caused by climate change.

The July 22 paper also cites deleterious effect of continuing efforts being taken to push the European Commission to weaken the only directives that call for improvement in the condition of rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater in Europe.

Overuse of water, caused by competing interests, threatens future supply and hampers ecosystem recovery, especially in the light of climate change, WWF says.

The paper suggests that Member States’ mismanagement of water resources could be rectified through full implementation of the EU water law (the Water Framework Directive (WFD)). This legislation is intended to impose management requirements that would mitigate the impacts of droughts and would ensure that freshwater ecosystems are resilient enough to cope in a changing climate.

Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF’s European Policy Office, said: “With intense droughts, heat and floods quickly becoming Europe’s ‘new normal’, smart water management - coupled with reducing emissions - can help us tackle the issue at the source. Climate change is happening, and the European Commission needs to decide today to buffer the impacts by signing off the EU water law as fit for purpose.”

The most recent data shows that Europe’s northernmost regions are already seeing signs of drought and the report highlights the fact that all European water resources are stretched extremely thinly.

About 60 percent of the resources fail to meet the WFD’s “good status” requirement. There is also evidence that already “unhealthy” freshwater systems (through pollution and over-abstraction, for example) are those most affected by drought, floods and heat.

Droughts are becoming increasingly common and severe across Europe, even in the northernmost regions.

“Healthy”, freshwater ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and keep supplying good quality water during dry periods.

60% of EU surface waters fail to meet the “good status” requirement of the WFD.

Virtually all of Europe’s rivers have had their flows regulated by dams or reservoirs in order to increase their capacity to provide water to users.

In its new assessment on the condition of European waters, WWF asserts that mismanagement of water resources across Europe will exacerbate anticipated droughts. On July 22, WWF called for European Union Member State governments to take emergency measures to tackle droughts, mostly caused by climate change. The paper also cites the deleterious effect of continuing efforts being taken to push the European Commission to weaken the only directives that call for improvement in the condition of rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater in Europe.

Overuse of water, caused by competing interests, threatens future supply and hampers ecosystem recovery, especially in the light of climate change.

The paper suggests that Member States’ mismanagement of water resources could be rectified through full implementation of the EU water law (the Water Framework Directive (WFD)). This legislation is intended to impose management requirements that would mitigate the impacts of droughts and would ensure that freshwater ecosystems are resilient enough to cope in a changing climate.

The result is obvious: systems could recover in “good” times and would be able to supply good quality water in droughts.

Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF’s European Policy Office, said: “With intense droughts, heat and floods quickly becoming Europe’s ‘new normal’, smart water management - coupled with reducing emissions - can help us tackle the issue at the source. Climate change is happening, and the European Commission needs to decide today to buffer the impacts by signing off the EU water law as fit for purpose.”

The most recent data shows that Europe’s northernmost regions are already seeing signs of drought and the report highlights the fact that all European water resources are stretched extremely thinly.

About 60 percent of the resources fail to meet the WFD’s “good status” requirement. There is also evidence that already “unhealthy” freshwater systems (through pollution and over-abstraction, for example) are those most affected by drought, floods and heat.

Droughts are becoming increasingly common and severe across Europe, even in the northernmost regions.

“Healthy”, freshwater ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and keep supplying good quality water during dry periods.

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