On May 13, 2020, the European Parliament approved the Water Reuse Regulation. For the first time, a regulation defines the minimum requirements for wastewater or reclaimed water intended for agricultural irrigation or other purposes. With the goals of limiting use of groundwater and other surface water due to growing water scarcity and promoting the circular economy, the regulation could potentially reuse 6.6 billion cubic meters of water by 2025. Currently, most European wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are treating water mainly for discharge. The regulation includes four water quality classes ranging from Class A to Class D and what technologies can be used to achieve a class level. Class A water is the highest quality and can be used on all food crops. Classes B and C water can be used for fruit trees and for the production of food for animal consumption. The lowest, Class D, can only be used for non-food purposes.
Lead Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Simona Bonafe, is quoted as saying, “That would require an investment of less than 700 million euros (or approximately $770 million U.S. dollars) 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 five per cent of direct extraction from water bodies and groundwater.” The full text of the proposed regulation can be found HERE.
The next steps for the regulation will be entry into force on the 20th day following publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and then it shall apply three years after this date. The European Parliament’s headquarters are in Strasbourg, France and meetings of the whole Parliament take place in Strasbourg and in Brussels, Belgium