Water shortages: is Europe drying up?
After a summer of drought in Europe, the winter has also brought little rainfall. Already in March, the EU Commission warned of low water levels and particularly dry soil in southern and western Europe. Politicians in countries like France and Italy are already reacting with targeted measures. Meanwhile, battles over water distribution between agricultural sectors, industry and environmental protection groups loom large.
No solution without binding regulations
Water abstraction is to be reduced by 10 percent in France by 2030. But the planned measures will be insufficient as long as they do no more than create incentives, Libération argues:
“Will the promise of a ‘real turnaround’ in the management of water resources be kept? ... There is no miracle solution, but there are a variety of levers that will be implemented mainly through regulatory changes. However, not every measure seems to be sufficient. The biggest weakness: the government is relying on measures that create incentives rather than binding regulations to bring about structural change. And there are no plans to tighten controls. This is a major impasse.”
Electromobility leads to waste
Economic policy must be revised with a view to water supply requirements, says Magyar Hang:
“Those who are demonstrating in Hungary [against battery factories for e-cars] believe that these highly water-intensive facilities pose an environmental risk and should not be installed on Hungarian soil. How we use our water, how much water we waste through inefficiency and how much more we can use to prevent drought will become an ever more essential question in the coming decades. Last summer showed that we currently don’t have a particularly strong drought strategy. Yet now we want to solve the questions of how to keep the economy stable and switch to electric cars at the expense of water.”
Spain’s future at stake
The regional parliament in Andalusia wants to irrigate even more agricultural land with water from the Doñana National Park. eldiario.es points to dramatic consequences:
“The expansion of irrigation can be considered as the greatest current environmental threat to Spain. It will lead directly to a collapse of water supplies which will affect the southern half of the country in particular. ... It must be stopped at all costs, and the area currently irrigated must be reduced by at least one million hectares. ... This would not affect our food sovereignty in any way, as 75 percent of the fruit and vegetable production is destined for exports. If these measures are not taken now, the environmental, social and economic consequences for our country will be disastrous. Our future is at stake.”
The global drinking water shortage will get worse, warns Új Szó:
“Europe had a dry winter. The glaciers, which are the most important sources of drinking water besides groundwater, are melting faster and faster. Groundwater is also becoming scarcer. It has also become common to use water as a weapon in wars — or more specifically, the lack of water. And the scarcity of drinking water will lead to more wars. Like the climate catastrophe and the [loss of] biodiversity, it is a symptom of the unscrupulous exploitation of our planet. We have to stop this.”