by Megan Darby

The UK is coming under increasing pressure from Europe to account for water and how it is used.

Questions about how water charges are set will soon be landing on ministers’ desks, according to Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environment Agency.

Speaking at the Sustainable Water 2012 conference, organised by Utility Week’s publisher ­Faversham House, McGlade said water accounting was going to be “quite transformational” and would put water on the economic agenda for heads of state.

“The biggest opportunity for water lies within the resource efficiency discussion,” she said. “­Setting targets for water efficiency is a challenge worth paying attention to.” She said the UK government needed to “get on the front foot”.

On the allocation of abstraction rights, McGlade said there would have to be discrimination between different uses.

A delegate asked how Europe would take account of the carbon and financial costs of treating water to ever-tightening standards in light of proposed additions to the Priority Substances Directive.

“Whether you like it or not, the environment and society at large has been exposed to a lot of chemicals,” said McGlade. That problem would be “a genuine challenge”,

she said.

There was a question over who bears the cost, she said, and more evidence was needed, but the European Commission’s Water Blueprint work would aim to streamline legislation.

This article first appeared in Utility Week’s print edition of 14th September 2012.

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