Commission advises on water reuse in agriculture –

Today the Commission published guidelines help Member States and stakeholders to apply the rules for the safe reuse of treated urban waste water for agricultural irrigation. As several Member States increasingly suffer from droughts, the reuse of water from urban waste water treatment plants can become an essential tool to guarantee a secure and predictable source of water, while reducing the pressure on water bodies and strengthening the EU’s capacity to adapt to climate change.

The Water Reuse Regulations, applicable from June 2023, sets minimum requirements for water quality, risk management and monitoring to ensure the safe reuse of water. The guidelines are supplemented by several practical examples to facilitate the application of the rules.

Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Virginijus Sinkeviciussaid:

Freshwater resources are scarce and increasingly under pressure. In times of unprecedented temperature spikes, we need to stop wasting water and use this resource more efficiently to adapt to climate change and ensure the security and sustainability of our agricultural supply. Today’s guidelines can help us do just that and ensure the safe movement of food grown with reclaimed water across the EU.

Water reuse can limit withdrawals from surface and groundwater and promote more efficient management of water resources, through the multiple uses of water in the urban water cycle, in line with the objectives. of the EU under the European Green Deal.

This trend towards more efficient water use is also reflected in the recent Commission proposal to revise the Industrial Emissions Directive, also calling for more efficient use of water in all industrial processes, including through water reuse. The forthcoming Commission proposal to revise the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive will also aim to further facilitate the reuse of water.


Under the European Green Deal, both the Circular Economy Action Plan and the new EU climate adaptation strategy refer to wider use of treated wastewater as a means of increasing the EU’s ability to respond to growing pressures on water resources.

Water reuse could also contribute to Farm-to-fork strategy objective to reduce the environmental footprint of the EU food system and strengthen its resilience, by providing an alternative and more reliable source of water for irrigation. Funding opportunities for investments in irrigation with reclaimed water as an alternative water supply exist under the Common Agricultural Policy .

The Minimum Requirements for Water Reuse Regulation (Water Reuse Regulation) establishes harmonized minimum water quality requirements for the safe reuse of treated urban wastewater in agricultural irrigation, with the aim of facilitating the adoption of this practice. The Regulation also provides for the possibility for Member States to decide to introduce this practice at a later stage, on the basis of specific criteria. These decisions should be regularly reviewed to take into account climate change projections and national strategies, as well as river basin management plans established under the Water Framework Directive

Lana T. Arthur