Minimum requirements for water reuse

On 18 July 2018, the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee considered a Proposal for minimum requirements for water reuse.

Water is a limited resource. One third of the EU is already experiencing water stress, and climate change and population pressures are expected to add to this challenge. Using treated waste water for agricultural irrigation is one way to help address this, and this Proposal aims to increase uptake across the EU by setting out minimum water quality (and monitoring) standards and requiring water reclamation plant operators to obtain permits, thus increasing confidence in the practice of water reuse.

The Government’s Explanatory Memorandum states that less than 1 per cent of treated waste water in the UK is currently reused and that they don’t expect the Proposal to have an impact on this. The Sub-Committee was disappointed that the Government did not seem to see any potential to increase water reuse and so wrote to the Minister to ask for details of their discussions with stakeholders on the Proposal’s potential impact.

Update: on 5 September 2018, Members considered the Minister’s reply. The Government are still in the process of obtaining stakeholder feedback on the impact of the Proposal, so Members asked to be kept updated on this and on how negotiations progress at the EU. The Committee’s response to the Minister also asks what lessons the UK could learn from other countries about increasing water reuse and whether other EU countries share the Government’s concerns that the Proposal creates additional burdens that might put off those considering developing a water reuse scheme.

Update: on 12 June 2019, Members considered the Minister’s latest letter. They noted that the UK Government is now broadly content with the Proposal and so granted the Minister a waiver to allow her to vote at an upcoming Environment Council meeting. As there appears to be a significant number of amendments still being made to the text, however, they decided to retain the Proposal under scrutiny and asked to be kept updated on any changes made.

Letters to the Minister

Letter from the Minister

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