On May 13th, the European Parliament adopted in plenary session the new Water Reuse Regulation. This is a set of important new rules that establish the minimum requirements to allow the safe use of treated urban waste water in agricultural irrigation.
«Today marks another important milestone towards the transition to a circular economy for water resources. We could potentially reuse 6.6 billion cubic metres of water by 2025, compared to the current 1.1 billion cubic metres per year. That would require an investment of less than EUR 700 million and would enable us to reuse more than half of the current volume of water coming from EU wastewater treatment plants theoretically available for irrigation, avoiding more than 5 % of direct extraction from water bodies and groundwater», declared lead MEP Simona Bonafé.
The main objective of this new regulation is to ensure that treated waste water is reused more widely in order to limit the use of water bodies and groundwater.
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) contemplates water reuse as a measure to solve problems related to scarcity and, in the same way, LIFE MCUBO proposes the reuse of wastewater as an integrated action within the framework of efficient water resource management.
The new Circular Economy Action Plan, approved last March, is one of the main components of the EU Green Deal: the European Union’s new programme towards a sustainable future. The Plan focuses on:
- Ensuring that products marketed in the EU are sustainable,
- To provide consumers with reliable information to enable them to make environmentally sustainable choices,
- Addressing the sectors that use the most resources and have the greatest potential for circularity (e.g. electronics, plastics, textiles, food, etc.); and
- Reducing waste by transforming waste into high quality secondary resources.
The MCUBO team has carried out different monitoring campaigns in companies of the agro-food sector, reaching the conclusion that, on many occasions, water consumption could be stopped by reusing regenerated water in the WWTP, either by themselves or by companies close to them in that or another sector.
The results of these campaigns are presented in the project’s Replication Guide and show that companies would reduce daily consumption by 75% by using regenerated water for cleaning facilities and floors.
The project raised the legislation and regulations concerning the use of recirculated water in the production process as one of its main barriers. However, it has been shown that in some cases this practice is feasible and operational and would significantly reduce water consumption in industry, paving the way for a sustainable future.