The new rules proposed include:
- Minimum requirements for the reuse of treated waste water from urban waste water treatment plants, covering microbiological elements (for example, levels of E. coli bacteria) and monitoring requirements for routine and validation monitoring. Setting minimum requirements will guarantee that reclaimed water produced in accordance with the new rules will be safe for irrigation.
- Risk management whereby any additional hazards must be addressed for water reuse to be safe.
- Increased transparency. The public will have access to information online about water reuse practice in their Member States.
European Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella, said "This proposal will create only winners – our farmers will have access to a sustainable supply for irrigation water, our consumers will know the products they eat are safe, and our businesses will see new opportunities. The biggest winner of them all will be our environment as the proposal contributes to better management of our most precious resource – water."
According to a May 28th Commission press release, "Water reuse in the EU today is far below its potential despite the fact that the environmental impact and the energy required to extract and transport freshwater is much higher".
"Moreover, a third of the EU’s land suffers from water stress all year round and water scarcity remains an important concern for many EU Member States".
Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, including severe droughts, are also likely to have negative consequences on both the quantity and quality of freshwater resources. The new rules aim to ensure that we make the best use out of treated water from urban waste water treatment plants, providing a reliable alternative water supply. By making non-potable wastewater useful, the new rules will also contribute to saving the economic and environmental costs related to establishing new water supplies".