Threat of water shortage for millions of Poles within a decade

The UN warns that by 2050 at least one in four people in the world will suffer from permanent or periodic drinking water shortages. It also threatens European countries, among which Poland is in a particularly bad situation. “We are using and wasting our already modest water resources at a dizzying pace, and therefore we may soon join the growing number of climate migrants” – warned Rafał Bonter, president of the board of Xylem Water Solutions Polska, during the European Congress of Local Governments in Mikołajki.
In the shadow of the debate on the availability of energy resources, there is a growing crisis related to another resource, which is crucial for the existence of every human being. And it was precisely this that was discussed during the discussion panel “Water as the gold of the 21st century” during the EKS Congress.
Although water accounts for 71 percent. of the Earth’s surface, only 2.5 percent. it is freshwater, most of which is stored in glaciers. Man uses fresh water from surface and groundwater, which covers less than 1 percent. total water supplies. Due to climate change, some 2 billion people in the world do not already have access to drinking water – and this problem will only get worse. It is estimated that 50 million climate migrants will be wandering in search of water in 2030. It is possible that Polish residents will also be among them.
“We are faced with a particularly difficult task, as our per capita surface water resources are approximately three times less than the European average and five times less than the Earth’s average. Moreover, almost 40 percent. of the area of ​​Poland lies in the sphere of water scarcity, “says Rafał Bonter, President of the Management Board of Xylem. “Additionally, we are still building a water saving culture. The average daily consumption of water by one person in Poland is 92 liters, which is much more than the EU average. In total, the water footprint of the Pole is approx. 4 thousand. liters per day, and a European – as much as half as much “- he adds.
According to the data of Xylem, a global company dealing with water technology, Poland ranks fourth from the bottom in the ranking of European Union countries in terms of water resources per capita. The situation is worse only in the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Malta, but these countries have been taking steps to avoid the impending catastrophe for years, including by using treated wastewater for recycling in agriculture and industry, or by supporting educational campaigns promoting water savings. So far in Poland there is no coordinated action at both the national and local levels.
“The statistical water consumption has not decreased in the last 20 years, despite the fact that we have bought numerous devices to save it. However, our habits and attitudes are still changing, so education and pro-ecological activities are still needed, “argues Rafał Bonter.
President Xylem adds that the problem is not only irrational water management by ordinary consumers, but also the lack of adequate retention infrastructure (reservoirs, ponds, etc.) and the enormous scale of wasting valuable raw material. He reminds that the Polish water supply network – as well as the heating network – is outdated and irregularly controlled.
“Our audit of a 15-kilometer section of the main line in Poznań showed that due to leaks and leakages, water losses amount to as much as 750,000 annually. cubic meters. This amount of water could fill as many as 214 Olympic swimming pools, “warns Rafał Bonter.
The European Union can mobilize us to take decisive action. According to the adopted Drinking Water Directive (Drinking Water 2020/2184), already next year, Member States will be required to estimate and assess water losses and to submit the results to the European Commission by January 12, 2026. exceeding will require the submission of a specific recovery plan by the country concerned.
“We are trying to educate enterprises and local governments on how to obtain funds for the modernization of the infrastructure used and the construction of a new one. For example, under the EU-funded National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, EUR 25 billion is at their disposal. Recycle water, especially in water-intensive agriculture or industry, and changing our daily habits are essential, “says Rafał Bonter. “We have entered a path from which there is no turning back and we need decisive action to ensure that we do not run out of water for both us and future generations,” he concludes.
Source of information: PAP MediaRoom