Working Group

SDG6

Water is one of the basic elements of life as well as the most precious resource and is under mounting pressure from growing domestic demand, economic activities, urban development, and climate change. Ensuring access to clean water for all is an essential element of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this, yet around 663 million people are still without this and at least 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is contaminated. Access to sustainable and clean water must become a human right in every country. We, as Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs), as Experts of this branch, want to help finding solutions, settle projects, build networks of knowledge and support better water policy/regulations in Europe and worldwide. We as SMEs are strongly related to our families, our home regions, and traditions – we are thinking sustainable for our families. It is only consequent and logic, we are considering ahead in terms of innovation in a global way. Because only if we create future and think global, we can create security and prosperity for those we are loving. For us, Water is not only business but much more: It is life! This is the mission of our initiative and the work of our group.

SDG6
Leadership - Massimo Di Bella
Founders   Massimo Di Bella
  • CEO KWI International Environmental Treatment GmbH
Leadership - Augustin Perner
  Augustin Perner
  • CEO Probig GmbH
Leadership - Josef Schneitl
  Josef Schneitl
  • CEO Gisaqua GmbH
Commitment

Water for Better Life!

Access to sustainable and clean water must become a human right in every country. We, as Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs), as Experts of this branch, want to help finding solutions, settle projects, build networks of knowledge and support better water policy/regulations in Europe and worldwide.

Drinking Water

The European Parliament and the European Commission revised the Drinking Water Directive ensuring new rules to further improve the access and the quality of drinking water to everyone living in the EU, whilst also reducing plastic waste from water bottles. The quality standards covert by the directive are set for human consumption including drinking, cooking and other domestic purposes to assure the protection of contamination. Moreover, it aims to provide better information to citizens. The shift from “end-of pipe” towards a “risk-based-approach” allows additional prevention and alleviation measures protecting our water sources including the material that is in contact with drinking water such as taps and pipes. Via a watch list mechanism allowing the EU to update surveillance in regards with latest evidence-based developments, endocrine distributors, microplastic and pharmaceuticals will be monitored. Although requirements are set for both the treatment and distribution of drinking water in order to maintain highest quality of drinking water, the majority of EU Member States currently do not coordinate their enforcement efforts. Thus, result in various national requirements for the marketing of materials and articles that are in contact with drinking water causing a lack of common EU standards for protection of human health. Therefore, the Working Group on SDG6 will examine the importance of common EU standards to ensure safe and clean drinking water for all European citizens, free of contaminants.

Wastewater

As water scarcity is affecting many Member States with at least 11% of European´s population and 17% of its territory have been affected by it, the European Parliament approved the Water Reuse Regulation to prevent further water shortages. According to the Parliament, it is expected that the water reuse alleviates the stress on the freshwater supply. The decreasing groundwater levels due to agricultural irrigation, urban development and industrial use, is a major threat to the EU water environment. Therefore, this new approval defines minimum requirements at European level for the first time for reclaimed water, hence urban wastewater that has been treated in a reclamation plant to be used for agricultural purposes to protect the people and the environment, also in heatwaves. Thus, limits the water use from water bodies and groundwater.

The European Commission has evaluated whether the Urban Wastewater Directive, another strong EU legislation, has reached its objectives. It shows that when fully implemented, the directive has proven successful, hence has led to improvements. The increasing collection of wastewater and treatment has been successful throughout the EU and led to an improved water quality.

However, an overhaul is needed to address emerging and existing pollution like pharmaceutical residues and microplastic, also pollutions through storm water overflows small agglomerations and non-connected dwellings etc. Moreover, to include technological developments and to adapt to societal issues resulted from climate change. Due to the evaluation it has shown that some European Countries are lagging behind with implementing this directive. The implementation rate needs to be improved to increase compliance levels in all European Member States.

We believe it is time to address the remaining pollution which is not sufficiently addresses by the existing directives to find solutions for eliminating the contaminants of emerging concerns that reach out water bodies.

Industrial Water

European´s water resource is under pressure. The freshwater supply is affected, through economic activities, urbanisation and population growth. Despite the implementation efforts of the Urban Wastewater Directive and other legislations of the Member States, only 40% of the European surface water bodies are in good ecological conditions and 38% in good chemical status. Industrial water exerts further pressure on European water bodies, even when in some cases treated in an urban wastewater treatment plant and afterwards released to the environment. It is a complex area that cannot simply characterised. Various industrial usage generates very different quantities and types of effluents. However, the uptake of water by the industrial sector across Europe is about 54% of the total uptake for human activities. The quality of these waters when turned into wastewaters is mostly substantially degraded. The indirect and direct release of industrial wastewater are addressed in the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED, 2010/75/EU). Additionally, the Water Framework Directive (WFD, 2000/60/EC) with its specific directives will influence the industrial wastewater generation and management. In respect to the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD, 91/271/EEC), the Groundwater Directive (2006/118/EC) and the Environmental Quality Standards Directive (2008/105/EC), the industrial water will be treated with the aim to better understand recent trends and the environmental pressure exerted by industrial water. The Working Group will point out challenges and possible solutions to industrial water affecting the environment to ensure the quality of the water bodies.

Agricultural water

One of the most significant challenges of our time is the sustainable management of precious natural resources such as water. Globally water is a vital source for agriculture. Around 44% of the total amount of water abstraction in the European Union is used for the agricultural sector. More than half of the total European territory is used for agriculture cultivation, pressuring on the quantity and quality of water bodies, hence impacting on the future sustainability of the water ecosystems. Especially through the presence of pesticide residues, sediments from soil erosion and nutrients from fertilizers like nitrate. In the Agenda of 2030 for the United Nations Sustainability Goals, water plays an important role, defined as Sustainable Water Management (SDG6) but also Sustainable Agriculture (SDG2). None of these goals can be achieved independently. Therefore, the overlapping challenges must be addressed directly by the Water and Agriculture Legislations to ensure a sustainable agriculture production while securing the good status of water bodies that are defined by the Water Framework Directive.

The Working Group on SGD6 will promote sustainable agricultural water management practices as it is paramount for the water ecosystem. It will highlight the importance to improve irrigation infrastructures and techniques to protect the water quality while avoiding pollution through pesticides and fertilizers. It is time to promote sustainable water management.

Smart Water

It is well known that water is vital for a healthy ecosystem, socio-economic development and for human survival. Around 1.1 billion people of the world´s population do not have adequate access to fresh water for meeting the minimum level of health and around 2.6 billion people globally face water scarcity. 25-35% of the water is lost through filtrations, leakages in distribution and irrigation systems, impacting the availability of fresh water, according to World Bank data. However, the basis to keep our ecosystem flourishing is water. The Water quantity will be increased by 400% only in the manufacturing industry sector between 2000 and 2050. It is time to face the water pressure now to ensure a sustainable water supply, energy optimization and reliable quality control through investments in the water infrastructure and through reforming water management regulations. This, together with improving the efficiency of domestic and industrial water use and treatment of the wastewater, will unlock the huge potential for saving water. One part of the solution is the digitalization. Smart technologies ensure resource optimisation in complex industrial processes and allow fast reactions in case of a disruption that would minimise water waste, to guarantee an efficient water management. The adoption of innovative solutions is vital. The Working Group will highlight the need of optimizing the industrial water use and municipal water supply through innovative technologies as this is the next step for a better future for water. Furthermore, we will examine the necessity of business models that supports innovative solution, digitalisation and technologies to maximise the social and economic well-being without restricting the sustainability of water.

Environmental Protection

In the circle of life, the environment plays a major role. Only with a healthy environment, a good social-and economic life and healthy well-being are feasible. Every sector directly or indirectly relies on the environment. Therefore, we need to protect our environment. As already mentioned, one of our most precious natural resource, water, is under immense pressure. The EU has implemented the Water Framework Directive for the protection of inland surface water, coastal water, transitional water and groundwater. The objective is to achieve a common status for all waters while preventing and reducing pollution, protecting and enhancing the aquatic environment, promoting sustainable water management and mitigating the effects of climate related issues like droughts and floods. These Framework is supported by specific targeted directives like the Drinking Water Directive, Urban Wastewater Directive, Environmental Quality Standards Directive etc. The focus of the directives is on the protection of water against pollution and deterioration, the evaluation of good chemical status and on the examination of significant and sustained upwards trends. The EU Fitness Check on Water Legislation assessing whether the Directives are fit for purpose, has shown that the Water Framework Directive has been successful to integrate water management for all water bodies across the EU, in line with the reduction of deterioration of water status and chemical pollution. However, it has also outlined that the implementation has been delayed. Less than half of Europeans water bodies are in adequate status although the deadline of the achievement was in 2015. The good status also depends on restoration measures addressing current and past pressures.

The Working Group aims to bring together old and new Directives regarding water such as the Water Framework Directive, Groundwater Directive, European Green Deal etc. to highlight the urgent need to protect the water bodies in every possible way to ensure good quality water to everyone.

Pharmaceutics & Water

To treat diseases in animals and humans effectively, we rely on the access to safe pharmaceuticals. Simultaneously, pharmaceuticals cause emerging problems of pollution with increasing risks to the environment and human health when consider antimicrobial resistance. Residues of pharmaceutical products has been found in surface and groundwater, animal tissues and soils and even accumulate in plants across the EU. Commonly found are antimicrobials, painkillers, antidepressants and hormones such as contraceptives. Some residue traces have been found also in drinking water. Their residues might access the environment through the manufacture of pharmaceutical products, their use and disposal. In March 2019 with the EU Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment, the European Commission aims to deliver a European Union that protects and work towards a sustainable Europe by 2030 in regards of the Sustainable Development Goals. As the pharmaceutical industry drives for innovation, it could support the development of products causing a lower environmental risk or facilitating the treatment of wastewater to endorse greener and smarter manufacturing systems. More important is the treatment of wastewater. This varies in the capacity to eliminate pharmaceutical residues.

The Working Group aims to highlight the importance of encouraging innovation helping to address the risk while promoting a circular economy by facilitating the treatment of water, sludge and manure. It also put special emphasise on the knowledge exchanges of different stakeholders and policymakers.

Human waterborne diseases

Antimicrobial resistant microorganism such bacteria and viruses are a major cause of water-related diseases. The water contaminated by animal and human faeces and urine contain harming microorganism. Therefore, it is necessary to treat wastewater to reduce pathogenic bacterial and viral concentrations. Globally, half of the hospital beds are occupied due to the lack of safe drinking water. 88% of global diarrhoea and 90% all deaths of diarrheal diseases in children under the age of five are caused by unsafe water. Also, the common COVID-19 crisis has shown that the virus has been found in wastewater although without infectious particles. Some environmental conditions like the temperature are an important factor for the survival of microorganism in water like corona virus. With a more circular approach and good treatment methods, human waterborne diseases are preventable.

The Working Group aims to emphasize best practices of water treatment to ensure both good quality and quantity of water for human consumption while protecting the environment. Water is life and we need to ensure that we protect this precious natural resource as every component of our daily life relies on good quality water.

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Polluter of Growing Concerns:
Pharmaceuticals in Ground and Drinking Water

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