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Reuse of treated water in European agriculture: Potential to address water scarcity under climate change

Jordan Hristov, Jesús Barreiro-Hurlé, Guna Salputra, Maria Blanco and Peter Witzke

Agricultural Water Management, 2021, vol. 251, issue C

Abstract: The use of reclaimed or treated water from urban wastewater treatment plants for irrigation has been proposed as an alternative water source to address water scarcity issues in Europe. In this paper using agro-economic modelling, we analyse if treated water available for agriculture has the potential to reduce freshwater abstraction and, consequently, water stress. Implementing exogenous treated water quantities as an additional water supply at NUTS 2 level in the CAPRI model, we found that treated water reuse is a possible alternative supply source to address water shortages with a very negligible effect on farmers’ income and food production in the EU. However, the actual water reuse and water stress reduction is very limited due to high costs. Even climate change effects on water availability and precipitation failed to induce higher use. The one-size-fits-all approach modelled via a flat rate water price only encourages the reuse of treated water in a limited number of EU member states. Thus, in order to maximise the potential of reused water to address water scarcity, different rates should be used so as to ensure higher treated water volumes at lower costs.

Keywords: Treated water; CAPRI model; Climate change; Water scarcity; Water stress (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2021.106872

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