EU Calls for Pay-As-You-Use Water Pricing Across 27-Nation Bloc
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Europeans should pay for water as they use it -- rather than forking out a one-time user fee -- to encourage efficiency and help stave off water scarcity and droughts, the European Union said Wednesday.
Faced with the prospect of inadequate water resources in the future, the EU's executive commission suggested the EU's 27 member states implement a "user pays" principle and promote the installation of water-saving devices on household taps, shower heads and toilets.
These recommendations were adopted by the EU more than seven years ago but many member states have not implemented efficiency pricing programs.
They are not required to do so until 2010. Compulsory metering programs would help reduce the amount of water being wasted, which is between 20 and 40 percent, officials estimate.
European water supplies are starting to feel the pinch from two directions, EU officials said. If temperatures rise due to climate change, droughts will occur more frequently. Rising demand for water as populations increase will also contribute to water scarcity.
The cost of droughts to the EU economy over the past 30 years was at least euro100 billion (US$138 billion), the EU said. A widespread drought in 2003 -- which affected over 100 million people and about a third of EU land area -- cost approximately euro8.7 billion (US$12 billion).
Southern EU members like Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal have already suffered from increasing drought conditions during summer months and are expected to face more dry conditions in the years ahead, according to EU experts.
Source: Associated Press