Germany is introducing a new national water strategy that will ensure water security in the long term, informs Reuters.
Although Germany has always been considered very rich in water resources, climate change is bringing hotter and drier conditions to Europe, which in Germany have affected agricultural production and resulted in low water flows in the Rhine River that hindered navigation last summer.
Federal Environment minister Steffi Lemke explained in an interview with Deutschlend.de that the strategy envisions predicted extraction levels that can be matched to the available water supply on a regional basis, although long-distance supply is an option in some regions. “Our goal should be to guarantee local supply as far as possible”, she said.
The minister emphasized that a sustainable water supply requires restoring a semi-natural water balance, in order to manage the challenges brought on by the climate crisis. A such, both the landscape and the soil would have a water storage function. River and lake banks, as well as floodplains, will serve as buffers from flood events and as storage when precipitation is low.
In terms of water use, she recognizes that not all uses require drinking water quality, opening the door to water recycling to reduce the pressure on fresh water resources. Further addressing pollution in groundwater and surface water from nutrients and contaminants is also an area that needs work, both by improving wastewater treatment, and improving product disposal.
The new strategy includes goals up to 2050, addressing restoration of natural spaces, the regulation of water distribution in case of shortages at the regional level, and prioritising water consumers. In addition, a new registry system will provide information on the water available in the country.