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HTML Document Water scarcity working group - overview

Released 22/03/2006

Water scarcity is the main challenge that Mediterranean countries face.

Main Mediterranean specificities

  • Most of the areas are characterised by a semi-arid/arid climate, which enhances water scarcity, where rainfall is main source of recharge
  • Competition is high between various uses, especially agriculture and tourism in an area which relies on both for its GDP.
  • Need to invest in non-conventional water resources to meet the gap between water and supply
  • Possibility to use renewable forms of energy

Main challenges
  • Unsustainable water management
  • Over exploitation and water pollution
  • Climate change impact
  • Lack of adequate drought and water resources planning
  • Complex hydro-political situation and lack of water agreements

Main recommendations

  • Development of comprehensive long-term drought preparedness policies and action plans
  • Development of coordination at EU level
  • Development of knowledge on specific issues:
  • Conduct research on the impact of climate change in the Mediterranean
  • Raise public awareness on water scarcity and sustainable use of water
  • Application of integrated water resources management
  • Greater coordination among water users and across basins

Main particularities with regard to the WFD

The WFD is not directly designed to tackle quantitative issues; however, the directive can be an instrument for addressing drought and water scarcity management. Indeed:
  • the directive is a “framework for the protection of waters which prevents further deterioration” (art. 1.a; art.4);
  • the directive contributes to mitigate the effects of droughts (art. 1.e);
  • water quantity can have a strong impact on water quality and therefore on the achievement of good ecological status;
  • a “good quantitative status” is required for groundwater; a balance between abstraction and recharge must be ensured. Furthermore, groundwater levels should not be subject to anthropogenic alterations that might have impacts on surface waters.