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Beyond water quality: sewage treatment in a circular economy

Sewage treatment is an essential service that can deliver clean water, nutrients and organic fertiliser. It can and should contribute to delivering the broad goals of the Green Deal, with a key role in supporting the ambition to achieve zero pollution.

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Bathing water quality in 2021

Bathing is an extremely popular and important leisure activity in Europe. This annual assessment of European bathing sites shows how well environmental protection measures are implemented, allowing people to make informed decisions on where to bathe without health risks at 21 551 officially identified bathing sites in the EU as well as 119 in Albania and 189 in Switzerland.

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UNEP/MAP–EEA Joint Work Plan 2022-2030

The long-standing cooperation between the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme / Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) has delivered successive harvests of knowledge products, such as the EEA-UNEP/MAP report titled Towards a cleaner Mediterranean: a decade of progress — Monitoring Horizon 2020 regional initiative, and several joint activities driving forward the collective endeavour for a healthy Mediterranean Sea and coast in the context of sustainable development.

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Europe’s groundwater – a key resource under pressure

Groundwater, making the invisible visible is the World Water Day theme for 22nd March 2022. Groundwater stores almost 1/3 of global total freshwater resources, but pollution may prevent its use. In the EU, groundwater supplies 65 % of drinking water and 25 % of the water for agricultural irrigation. Groundwater pollution is a serious threat to drinking water quality. Once polluted, recovery is not easily achieved because there is no fast way to remove pollutants. This also means that polluting substances can accumulate. Furthermore, groundwater resources are under increasing pressure from water abstraction and climate change. In the EU, 24% of the total groundwater body area was reported in poor chemical status and 9 % in poor quantitative status according to Water Framework Directive 2nd River Basin Management reports in 2016. This briefing provides an overview on the state of the art with groundwater in the EU as contribution to the celebration of the World Water Day in 2022.

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Water resources across Europe — confronting water stress: an updated assessment

This report aims to update our knowledge of water stress (a general term that includes drought and water scarcity) in Europe to inform policymakers and interested stakeholders about the current state of play.

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Drivers of and pressures arising from selected key water management challenges — A European overview

This report aims to give a European overview of the main drivers and pressures that are at the core of key water management challenges and which put European water bodies most at risk of not achieving key environmental objectives. Identifying the pressures from and drivers of key water management challenges at the European level can help in prioritising the main issues that should be tackled with measures.

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European Maritime Transport Environmental Report 2021

This report provides a factual analysis of the environmental pressures exerted by the maritime transport sector, presents up-to-date information on the relevant EU and international environmental standards and describes current and future actions to reduce the sector's impact on our environment.

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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 our societies with vital ecosystem services, including food, energy, clean air and climate change mitigation. However, 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. This briefing summarises the current state of biodiversity in Europe’s seas.

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Technical assessment of progress towards a cleaner Mediterranean

Monitoring and reporting results for Horizon 2020 regional initiative

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Bathing water management in Europe: Successes and challenges

This report summarises how over 40 years of European environmental policy and management have significantly improved bathing water quality across Europe.

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Water and agriculture: towards sustainable solutions

This report was initiated following the EEA's 2018 assessment of the status of and pressures on European waters, to highlight the role of agriculture in achieving an improved status of surface water and groundwater in future river basin management plans

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Tracking barriers and their impacts on European river ecosystems

The importance of free-flowing rivers that allow free movement of water, sediment, fish and other organisms is increasingly recognised by EU environmental policy, in particular the Water Framework Directive and the biodiversity strategy for 2030. However, the large number of barriers on our rivers has resulted in a loss of river continuity. This briefing addresses the following questions: What is the density of barriers on rivers? What do we know about their impacts on rivers? How can we improve the European knowledge base on barriers in rivers?

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Multiple pressures and their combined effects in Europe’s seas

Europe’s seas are overexploited. Most of Europe’s marine area (93 %) is under multiple pressures from human activities, which have reached the most remote areas. The EU’s maritime economy will not be sustainable unless it is confined to the current ecological limits of marine ecosystems. That means decoupling human activities on land and sea from the degradation and depletion of marine ecosystem capital. This briefing summarises a spatial assessment of the multiple pressures on Europe’s seas (ETC/ICM, 2019a).

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Regional water report

Regional water report

03 Nov 2020

Water resources, surface water quality and water consumption in the Eastern Partnership countries

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Towards a cleaner Mediterranean

This joint EEA and UNEP/MAP report takes stock of the progress achieved and challenges ahead in the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Horizon 2020 initiative for a cleaner Mediterranean (H2020).

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Marine messages II

Marine messages II

25 Jun 2020

This report provides a set of key messages on the current use of Europe's seas and its combined effects on marine ecosystem condition. These messages underpin a set of lessons from marine ecosystem recovery from which solutions for a brighter future can be identified.

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European bathing water quality in 2019

Bathing is an extremely popular and important leisure activity in Europe. This annual assessment of European bathing sites shows how well environmental protection measures are implemented, allowing people to make informed decisions on where to go to best enjoy Europe’s inland and coastal bathing sites.

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Emerging chemical risks in Europe — ‘PFAS’

It is currently not possible to perform in-depth environmental and health risk assessments of all chemical substances in use in Europe because of the great variety of chemicals and their diverse uses. New and legacy chemicals continue to be released into Europe’s environment, adding to the total chemical burden on Europe’s citizens and ecosystems. Early identification of emerging risks is one of the activities of the European Environment Agency (EEA). This briefing summarises the known and potential risks to human health and the environment in Europe posed by a group of very persistent chemicals, the per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).

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Nutrient enrichment and eutrophication in Europe's seas

This assessment explores whether Europe has been able to reverse eutrophication trends in its regional seas. The assessment is based on publicly available monitoring data, primarily collected in the context of the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Regional Sea Conventions.

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Urban waste water treatment for 21st century challenges

It is easy to take water for granted. Clean water comes out of a tap, we use the water and then ‘dirty’ water disappears down the drain. In this way, the water that leaves our homes, schools and workplaces is contaminated. For most European citizens, such waste water is collected, transported and then treated at an urban waste water treatment plant, to remove components harmful to the environment and human health, before the water is returned to nature (EEA, 2018). The importance of access to clean water and sanitation is embedded in Goal 6 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN, n.d). Supplying clean water and collecting waste water has required huge investment across Europe in recent decades. In this briefing, we show that challenges to securing sustainable water in future, such as climate change, present new opportunities for resource efficiency and improved environmental protection.

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