EU on Groundwater Conservation: Innovative Approach Is Needed

groundwater preservation
Groundwater conservation is now important for the EU like never before. Source: Water News Europe

Source: Water News Europe

In the light of climate change it is vital to remember that this process affects every aspect of the environment including water, which the EU never ceases to mention in their reports. The Europe Water Pump Market Report 2021-2030 warns that climate change causes the decrease of groundwater levels. Groundwater should be treated not just as a water supply reservoir, but also as a system of major environmental value. Groundwater plays an essential role in the natural water cycle and serves as a buffer for Earth’s flora during dry periods. Apart from that, about 75% of EU residents depend on groundwater for their water supply. This is why groundwater conservation is now important for the EU like never before.

The European Union encourages search for innovations and efficient solutions for rational distribution of water resources. The goal is to at least avoid overexploitation of aquifers, if not bring groundwater to previous levels.

Spain: Industry Vs Environment

Spain’s minister for ecological transition Teresa Ribera is under pressure to conform with the EU’s new policy. Today’s water supply situation in Spain is far from perfect, with nitrate contamination exceeding the acceptable limit fourfold.

Spain is Europe’s top meat producer. Pig farming is developed to an extent when some autonomous regions are more populated with pigs than people. Pig farming wastes are used as fertilizer. Since there is no legislation regulating their use, over-fertilizing is a frequent occurrence. Excess plant nutrients are seeping into groundwater and contaminate what is bound for humans to drink with toxic compounds, some of them carcinogenic.

pig farming pollution
Pig breeding is the biggest groundwater pollutant in Spain. Source: espanarusa.com

“In this context, water plans can’t continue to support the sort of practices that have led to the overexploitation of aquifers, the contamination of groundwater and the deterioration of our rivers.” — Teresa Ribera, the minister of ecological transition of Spain

EU Legal Framework: Long-Time Concern for Groundwater

The groundwater situation has been EU’s concern since as early as the 1970s. It started in 1979 with the adoption of the Directive on the Protection of Groundwater. In 2006’s Groundwater Directive  standards for groundwater quality were determined and the introduction of pollutants into groundwater was restricted. Nowadays these regulations make up the foundation of the EU Water Framework Directive adopted by all member states of the European Union.

Nevertheless, GeoERA, the research union of 33 national and 15 regional geological organizations from Europe, encourages the search for innovative approaches to groundwater quality and quantity preservation. The demand for fresh water is only increasing with time, which urges the necessity for more thorough groundwater protection. Competent water supply redistribution shall unload the aquifers, and cooperative effort in water treatment and contamination prevention shall eliminate the risks for health and quality of life.