United Nations estimates that by 2050 5 billion people worldwide could suffer from water scarcity. The severity of this situation stems from several factors – climate change, increased demand for water, pollution of water supplies and excessive consumption. On a global scale, climate change has direct impact on water distribution on the planet. Severe droughts may cause rivers, lakes and other water resources to dry up which impacts agriculture, local economy and quality of life. It was calculated that higher air temperature contributed to water temperature increase of the River Rhine, which rose by 3°C between 1910 and 2006. If the water temperature continues to rise, we may experience several ecological and chemical consequences over the years. Also, European population will continue to grow over the next 100 years, which will create more demand for fresh water sources and agricultural products. Considering this, a crucial question arises – is Europe ready for drinking water shortages?

This time last year, changes were implemented to the European Drinking Water Directive, which updated water safety standards, introduced improved water quality monitoring policies, urged suppliers to increase transparency and access to detailed information about drinking water quality, and addressed the issue of microplastics and EDCs. Nearly 50% of Europe’s drinking water is now extracted from groundwater, 40% comes from surface reservoirs and only 10% is taken from other alternative water sources such as artificial deep drainage systems or bank filtration. European Environment Agency reports that the quality of drinking and bathing water, as well as waste water treatment systems continue to improve, mostly due to successful implementation of water treatment solutions but companies such as Strefa Wodna. However, there are multiple pollutants, such as microplastics in personal care products, agricultural runoff, or storm water overflows threatening the safety of EU water resources.

Europe’s condition in terms of water quality differs by region. Central and northern Europe will have increased water availability resulting in dry summers, but wetter winters. Countries such as Belgium, France and the United Kingdom may fall victim to floods and potential dam safety. On the other hand, several countries in the south of Europe – Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Italy and Turkey – are projected to experience water scarcity if air temperature continues to increase. In these countries water shortages will directly impact agricultural, energy, transportation and food security sectors. Due to that, future supplies of crops will change, thus making EU more dependant on import of agricultural products from other countries. Currently 91% of almond products, 70% of rice and cotton, 57% of soybean and 56% of sugar cane imports to Europe are considered vulnerable to extreme weather conditions and water scarcity. 844 million people worldwide lack basic drinking water access. Every day over 800 children die from conditions attributed to drinking unsanitary water and 2.3 billion people live without access to basic sanitation. The US Flint water crisis shows that even huge economic powers have issues to keep water supplies clean and healthy. It is, therefore, worth remembering that water quality is a global issue and only united efforts to keep water reservoirs safe will bring sufficient results.

Leonardo Da Vinci once said that „water is the driving force of all nature”. Taking into account the fact that the climate is constantly changing and healthy water availability in Europe is threatened by global warming, droughts and flooding, every citizen should feel responsible for mitigating the impacts of water scarcity and maintaining the highest water quality possible. You can assess water quality in your area by purchasing a simple test kit or obtaining water quality report from your municipality. There are companies that perform thorough tests on water quality and offer professional support to find the best tools, solutions and water treatment systems to assure you and your household have the optimal water quality available.

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