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Monday, September 29, 2008

Water in Europe

People fail to understand that water isn't unlimited resource and they continue to waste it. I can understand that-you look at the oceans and the seas and you think-there's so much of it, how can it be a scarcity? Well it can and it is.
Here you are two articles that are emphasizing on different problems regarding water.
I just want to add that the preservation of water is our common problem and duty. It's not so hard and improving efficiency and decreasing water waste, we can effectively decrease the prices and spare some troubles at time of drought. An important part of this is also keeping the water sources clean, which in countries like mine can be a problem.

Interview: Water 'must be integrated into all policies'

10 September 2008

"Everything has to rethought in terms of the water problem," Austrian centre-right MEP Richard Seeber told EurActiv in an interview, commenting on the unanimous adoption of his report on water scarcity and drought by Parliament's environment committee yesterday (9 September).

"Businesses and citizens have to take into account that we shall face water scarcity in large parts of Europe that will hinder successful economic development," stressed the MEP, insisting that "water should be one of the main issues on the political agenda and integrated into all policies".

Growing strains on Europe's water supply, fuelled by extensive use as well as climate change, prompted the Commission to propose, last July, the introduction of pricing policies to persuade users – including farmers, industries and households – to waste less of the earth’s precious resources (see EurActiv 18/07/07; Links Dossier).

Although the MEP rejects suggestions that global water supply will one day be unable to satisfy demand, creating a 'peak water' situation as theorised for oil (see EurActiv 27/05/08; Links Dossier), Seeber nevertheless stresses that "supplying more water will not resolve the scarcity problem in general."

"Water is renewable," he explains, adding: "You can recycle water as often as you want, so if you have proper installations, there will never be peak water." However, he warns that this does not change the fact that "water is a scare commodity". He therefore calls on member states to rethink the way they consume water and insists that they implement pricing systems to reflect this.

How this could work in practice should nevertheless be left to individual states to decide, Seeber believes. "

Indeed, ensuring that water policy remains primarily a national issue is a central theme of Seeber's report. "Committee members fully backed my position that water resources will remain, without doubt, in the sole possession of each EU member state," he said.

Nevertheless, his report also stresses the "international dimension" of water scarcity and drought problems and calls on EU states "to work together" to combat increasing risks of drought in some regions, as well as the "irresponsible waste of water resources in some economic sectors and countries".

Estimating the total economic impact of drought at EU level over the past thirty years at €100 billion, the report claims that a fifth of the bloc's population lives in regions experiencing water stress. 40% of the water used in the EU could be saved and 20% of the bloc's supplies are wasted due to inefficiency, it asserts, prompting Seeber to declare that "trends in water use are unsustainable".

The MEP's report further calls for the EU's energy efficiency labelling system to be extended to include a reference to water consumption, and asks the bloc to launch a public awareness-raising campaign to encourage people to save water.

The seriousness of the water scarcity issue became apparent last summer, when serious droughts afflicted much of the bloc (EurActiv 18/07/07).

To read the interview with Richard Seeber in full, please click here. source

Raising water productivity

1 September 2008
Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute

Water shortages are negatively impacting upon growth in food production, thus "the world needs an effort to raise water productivity," writes Lester R. Brown in an August 27 commentary for the Earth Policy Institute.

First and foremost, "a new mindset and a new way of thinking about water use" are needed, says Brown. To this end, he calls for improved irrigation efficiency, which is crucial to improving water productivity.

This can be done by introducing new irrigation systems that consume less water and manage water more efficiently. In many countries, including India, Mexico, Pakistan, Malaysia and Israel, Brown explains that "water efficiency is affected not only by the type and condition of irrigation systems but also by soil type, temperature and humidity".

Hot arid regions are particularly at risk as "the evaporation of irrigation water is far higher than in cooler humid regions," says the author.

For this reason, resolving to move from the current, less efficient flooding technique to other systems like overhead sprinklers or drip irrigation would significantly raise irrigation water efficiency. Drip irrigation systems are said to be "well-suited to countries with a surplus of labour and a shortage of water" as they are "labour intensive and water-efficient," says the paper.

Only a few countries - Jordan, Cyprus and Israel - have opted to use this system. Water policy analyst Sandra Postel believes drip technologies would irrigate 10 million hectares of India's land if the system were to be applied on several scales.

As for water management, the author believes institutional change is necessary, calling for the management of irrigation systems to be left to local water users associations rather than government bodies. "Farmers tend to do a better job than distant government agencies," he says.

Water should be priced "accordingly" as it is becoming a scarce resource, argues the paper. China exemplifies this case, as its leaders have increased water prices to dissuade people from wasting it. source

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