According to a study by the WWF, water shortages in Europe are largely due to “decades of water mismanagement” – and not primarily to climate change.

According to a study published by the environmental organization, practically everywhere on the continent wetlands have been drained, rivers straightened, channeled and dammed, and groundwater recharge areas destroyed. “In addition, there is illegal exploitation of water for agriculture and irresponsible practices in the construction of hydroelectric power plants.” According to the authors, the climate crisis with, among other things, more frequent periods of drought further increases the water risk for Europe.

The report shows different examples of water mismanagement and overexploitation in Europe. In Spain and the Netherlands, for example, water is taken illegally, excessively and sometimes uncontrolled for agriculture. In France, according to the information, water reservoirs for agriculture are illegally filled and operated. In Bulgaria, the illegal construction and irregular operation of hydroelectric power plants without taking into account the water flows necessary for nature and people is an example of water mismanagement. These case studies are just a snapshot of the deep and widespread management issues across the continent.

Water concerns in this country too

Germany also has increasing water concerns as the climate crisis progresses, said Theresa Schiller, WWF officer for international water resources. “Long-term mistakes in river basin management and in the management of our water resources are now fully reflected.” Instead of sustainable water management, there is a real “drainage management” in Germany, Schiller criticized: “We do everything we can to drain the water from the landscape as quickly as possible – and then we are surprised in summer when there are crop failures due to drought and drought.”

According to the expert, existing, targeted EU regulations such as the Water Framework Directive are still not being sufficiently implemented in the member states, such as Germany. “The EU must advance a sustainable water and climate adaptation agenda and use existing legal instruments to permanently ensure sustainable river basin and water resource management in Europe.”