The European Commission (EC) has issued a blueprint intended to ensure the availability of adequate water in the future. The report estimates a 40-percent fresh-water shortage by 2030 and “aims to tackle the obstacles which hamper action to safeguard Europe’s water resources.” It describes the causes of negative impacts on water as interlinked and includes among those causes “climate change; land use; economic activities such as energy production, industry, agriculture and tourism; urban development and demographic change.”

The commission reports “good” ecological status of 43 percent of reported freshwater streams, with measures to raise that to 53 percent by 2015. The greatest pressures, it says, relate to “changes to water bodies due, for example, to dams for hydropower and navigation or draining land for agriculture; embankments for flood protection.” It says that fish passes and fish lifts should be standard practice and calls for more aggressive retrofitting of such devices.

The blueprint describes measures for the EC and the European Union’s (EU’s) member countries to implement to bring waters up to good ecological status. The EC enumerated a number of planned steps. These include publishing guidance on trading schemes, with a cost-benefit assessment, on “water accounts” and ecological flow, on “water stress” and on establishing targets for water use efficiency. The EC also indicated that it would push countries to fix problems in their implementation of laws on water pollution, including industrial pollution and wastewater management. The plan also calls for efforts to ensure that each member state’s industrial emissions permits are in line with best available techniques and take into account relevant water objectives. The EC will propose legislation on water use in buildings as well as the establishment of water reuse standards. The EC plans to include water-using devices among the products it will assess under the EU Ecodesign Directive.