Personal tools

Notifications
Get notifications on new reports and products. Frequency: 3-4 emails / month.
Subscriptions
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
Twitter icon Twitter
Facebook icon Facebook
YouTube icon YouTube channel
RSS logo RSS Feeds
More

Write to us Write to us

For the public:


For media and journalists:

Contact EEA staff
Contact the web team
FAQ

Call us Call us

Reception:

Phone: (+45) 33 36 71 00
Fax: (+45) 33 36 71 99


next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Water / Water resources / Water scarcity and drought

Water scarcity and drought

Large areas of Europe have been affected by droughts over the past 50 years, and pressures on European water resources have increased in the past decades.

Therefore, future conflicts between human requirements and ecological needs are likely to increase. These conflicts are most critical and intensify during severe and extensive droughts. The primary cause of any drought is a deficiency in rainfall, but also increased human demand for water is an important factor.

Droughts can be divided into meteorological droughts, agricultural droughts and hydrological droughts.

Drought types and causes

Drought-impacts

Source: The US National Drought Mitigation Centre (NDMC).

Additional information on droughts can be found on NDMS homepage
Recent severe and prolonged droughts have highlighted Europe's vulnerability to this natural hazard and alerted the public, governments and operational agencies to the many problems of water shortage and the need for drought mitigation measures. Policy measures are needed which encourage ‘soft’ demand management approaches, rather than ‘hard’ infrastructure supply side approaches. Measures could include:

  • The use of economic instruments, such as water pricing and metering
  • Water-reuse and recycling
  • Increased efficiency of domestic, agricultural and industrial water use
  • Water saving campaigns supported by public education programmes

The main impacts of droughts include water supply problems, shortages and deterioration of quality, intrusion of saline water in groundwater bodies and increased pollution of receiving water bodies (i.e. there is less water to dilute pollutant discharges) and drops in groundwater levels. Droughts have major economic impacts.

dryriver

The latest climate change scenarios suggest significant summer drying across many parts of Europe, especially in the south. These scenarios also suggest lower rainfall in other seasons and increased variability. These patterns of change suggest that over the coming decades Europe is likely to suffer more frequent meteorological droughts. This may be further exacerbated due to generally elevated temperatures increasing the demand for water.

In recognition of the acuteness of the water scarcity and drought challenges in Europe, the Commission is currently undertaking an in-depth assessment of the situation at EU level. Based upon the results of this assessment, the Commission is planning to present a communication on these issues in 2007
(See also water scarcity and drought).

Geographical coverage

[+] Show Map

Document Actions

Comments

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100