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Water supply and reuse

Climate change ensures that the issue of water shortage is high on the agenda in many countries, including Germany. One significant way to counteract this is to reuse municipal wastewater and rainwater. However, to protect the environment as well as human and animal health, in many cases this should only be done after the water has been properly processed. After all, we have to protect surface waters and groundwater from pollution from pharmaceuticals, microplastics, and germs, for example. With regard to agricultural irrigation in the member states of the European Union, the “Regulation on the Minimum Requirements for Water Reuse” came into force at the end of June 2023. The German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) welcomes the regulation and advocates nationwide irrigation with treated, sanitized wastewater—including parks and green spaces.

Seawater desalination is an interesting option to quench the increasing thirst of many regions in the world – such as the African continent and the Asia-Pacific region, but also European countries such as Spain. Current research and development work is aimed at making the desalination processes even more competitive and environmentally friendly. One important approach in this area is the use of renewable energies, especially solar energy. International market research company Mordor Intelligence expects the global market for desalination systems to grow at an annual rate of around ten percent in the coming years.

Regardless of whether our drinking water is obtained from the sea, ground or surface water—it is obvious that as little as possible should be lost or go to waste, especially considering the costs involved. Due to leaks in the piping systems, for example. The amount of drinking water that is lost varies greatly from country to country. At around six percent, Germany compares favorably with other countries. The key to this is the high monitoring, maintenance and refurbishment expenditure: the country invests around two billion euros in this area each year.

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