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EU Commission Assesses the Gaps Between Agriculture and Sustainable Water Management

May 3rd, 2017 |

It is widely understood that the first round of River Basin Management Plan programs are not on track to reach long-term objectives and that the failure of CAP to integrate water measures is an important rationale. To investigate this case further, the European Commission has completed an analysis of how the existing EU water and agriculture policy framework addresses the three main agricultural pressures affecting water: nutrients, pesticides and abstraction.

While there are certainly EU policies in place to address these challenges, there are also obstacles which prevent their implementation. In order to resolve this, the Commission is reviewing key water legislation (i.e. the Water Framework Directive, Urban Waste Water Directive, and Floods Directive and the Drinking Water Directive) in line with a process to modernize and simplify the CAP.

The analysis summarizes some of the ways in which existing tools can be optimized. For example, in regards to addressing nutrient-related water challenges there are opportunities to improve; knowledge on the types of pressures stemming from agriculture; the monitoring networks in place; the use of CAP to finance measures of the River Basin Management Plans fertilizer application and manure management; the way in which the polluter pays principle is applied and the manner in which the farming sector is engaged. When it comes to chemicals, the analysis concludes that the most efficient would be to program the following measures; reduction targets and timelines; ambitious measures for member states’ National Action Plans; guidelines for the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM); the use of funds from the CAP to reduce pesticide use; financial stimuli for farmers.

When it comes to water quantity there are broader suggestions ranging from; the use of climate-appropriate crops; the modernization of irrigation systems and promotion of sustainable water use and appropriate water pricing to planning for extreme conditions. The use of alternative sources should also be explored in the form of water storage via natural water retention measures (NWRM), water reuse, rainwater harvesting and desalination.

Read the full document here

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