Post a comment on the text below

3.1.1        Tapping water from rivers and lakes for European cities

Public water supply accounts for 32% of the total water use in Europe (EEA, 2016b). This is, roughly a third of the total freshwater abstracted in Europe is directed to households, small businesses, hotels, offices, hospitals, schools and some industries. Some of the main challenges faced by urban water supply include droughts, water scarcity, seasonal or geographical mismatches between water availability and water demand, and low efficiency of water distribution networks (including leakage). In some European countries these challenges have led to overexploitation and pollution of groundwater resources, as falls in the piezometric level of aquifers can give way to higher pollutant concentrations and salt water intrusion (the latter in coastal aquifers). This has subsequently resulted in the implementation of measures ranging from the softer – like awareness-raising campaigns – to the more drastic – like abstraction restrictions (De Paoli et al., 2016) and water transfers between different river basins.   

To secure a reliable and safe water supply, cities have typically developed centralised systems to abstract, transfer and distribute water. Urban uses of water, including the necessary hydraulic interventions to secure a regular supply, are transforming considerably the natural ecosystems within and close to cities and are in competition with other water uses (e.g. recreation, irrigation etc). In turn, these other uses affect the availability of the resource for urban use by impacting on its quality (Kallis & Coccossis, 2001).

With growing populations and increasing demand for water, Europe’s larger cities have generally relied on the surrounding regions for drinking water supply, mostly supplied by groundwater but sometimes by surface waters. For example, Athens, Istanbul and Paris are all cities which have developed wide networks for transporting water, often over more than 100-200 km, to their water-hungry densely-populated cities. Even in Germany, which is a relatively water-rich country, water is being transported over long distances to supply urban centres. This is the case for the city of Stuttgart which receives its drinking water from Lake Constance, located at a distance of 160 km.

You cannot post comments to this consultation because you are not authenticated. Please log in.