IFAT | What expectations do you have of the new federal government with regard to water management?
Merkel | There has never been a more detailed and concrete commitment to water conservation by a federal government. The coalition agreement of the German ‘traffic light’ government clearly shows that politicians see a great need for action to secure the future supply of drinking water in Germany: there is, for example, the clear commitment to the priority of public drinking water supply—a principle that will be important in times of climate change when negotiating conflicts of use with agriculture and industry, as well as for landscapes close to nature and water. There is also a clear commitment to consistently implement the measures provided for in the Water Framework Directive for the protection of water. Also, the commitment to precautionary water protection is really very good.
It is vital that the political visions are now translated into concrete targets, the achievement of which is supported by effective measures and regularly evaluated and adjusted.
IFAT | What role can the European Green Deal play for the water industry?
Merkel | More and more regulatory decisions for the water sector are being made at the European level. We support the Commission's ambitions to achieve, among other things, a pollutant-free environment by means of the European Green Deal. The Zero Pollution Action Plan puts the spotlight on exactly those things for water protection that we as the DVGW have been demanding for decades: the consistent application of the precautionary and polluter pays principles, and the prevention of pollution at the source instead of implementing end-of-pipe measures at the waterworks. With regard to the imminent national implementation of the requirements of the EU Drinking Water Directive in terms of risk management, we also expect that the Zero Pollution Action Plan, if ambitiously launched, will contribute to the protection of drinking water resources. It would then definitely be the quantum leap in EU environmental policy that we urgently need.
IFAT | What importance do you attach to IFAT Munich 2022?
Merkel | IFAT Munich 2022 will be a highly attractive showcase for the entire utilities sector. After the four-year break caused by the pandemic, it is more important than ever to raise forward-looking technological processes as well as innovations in products and services for the practice of water supply and disposal to an internationally renowned platform. Because these make a significant contribution to the innovative strength of the industry. An exhibition is always a dialog between manufacturer and user—innovative offers meet the needs of the users and provide inspiration for new technology solutions. With no trade fair like IFAT Munich, this global marketplace for cutting-edge technologies, for safeguarding water quality, for harnessing digitalization, or for maintaining infrastructure would be lacking.