EU agrees minimum requirements for water reuse in agriculture

The European Parliament and the Council have provisionally agreed on minimum water quality requirements for the safe reuse of treated urban wastewater in agricultural irrigation.

The Commission says the practice of water reuse is currently established in only a few member states and it is deployed “much below its potential”.

Under the new legislation, treated urban wastewater, which has already undergone certain treatments under the rules of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, would be subjected to further treatment to meet the new minimum quality parameters and thus become suitable for use in agriculture.

It also sets out minimum monitoring requirements, risk management provisions to assess and address potential additional health and environmental risks and a permitting procedure and provisions on transparency where by key information about any water reuse project would be made publicly available.

The newly-agreed rules are expected to facilitate and stimulate the uptake of this practice, which can ensure a more predictable supply of clean water for the EU farmers and help them to adapt to climate change mitigate its impacts.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner said, “With this provisional agreement, we are equipping the EU with a powerful tool to tackle some of the challenges posed by climate change.

“Together with water savings and efficiency measures, the use of reclaimed water in the agriculture sector can play an important part in addressing water stress and drought while fully guaranteeing the safety of our citizens.”