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People, nature and the economy all need water and water is many things: a vital need, a local and global resource, a transport corridor, a climate regulator and home and provider to many species. Europe's rivers, lakes, seas and groundwater are under pressure from pollution, eutrophication, over-exploitation and climate change.
Does the EU have enough and clean groundwater?
Groundwater stores almost one third of total global freshwater resources and, in the EU, supplies 65% of drinking water and 25% of water for agricultural irrigation. Groundwater pollution is a serious threat to this resource. Recovery from pollution is not easy, as removing pollutants is difficult, meaning that they can accumulate. Groundwater resources are also under increasing pressure from water abstraction and climate change.
Groundwater is an integral part of the natural water cycle. Once degraded or depleted, it can take years or decades for groundwater to recover.
WISE-Freshwater: your gateway to data and information on European surfacewater and groundwater
Climate change and water: Too much or too little?
Climate change has many significant impacts on water. One of these impacts is the amount of water that will be at a given place at a given time. As our climate is changing, some areas are projected to get wetter. Heavy rain downpours might result in flooding as there is more water than the ground can absorb. Other areas are expected to get drier.
Our indicator shows that, between 2000 and 2019, Europe was affected by severe droughts with an annual productivity loss of 3% in affected areas. The last decade saw the most intense drought years; notably the years 2013 and 2016-2019 showed strong impacts on vegetation productivity. Drought impacts on forests were worst, with 5% annual productivity loss followed by croplands (4% annual decrease) and heathlands/shrubs (3.1% decrease).
Europe’s marine biodiversity remains under pressure
Europe's seas are precious. Our quality of life, livelihoods and economies depend on them being in good condition. Our seas are home to many species, habitats and ecosystems. They also provide people with vital ecosystem services, including food, energy, clean air and climate change mitigation.
Through the continued unsustainable use of Europe’s seas, we have altered their physio-chemical environment, and their habitats and ecosystems. The resilience of our seas is eroding, while their ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity, and the services they provide are under significant threat.