Germany sets out new water strategy to combat climate risks

Germany has agreed a national water strategy aimed at coping with longer dry seasons and the increased risk of heatwaves caused by climate change.

The move is part of a broader strategy to ensure water security.

The strategy, with goals to be concluded up to 2050, includes restoring forests and green spaces, and developing guidelines to regulate water distribution in case of regional shortages categorising water consumers in rankings.

Other planks of the strategy include restoring the semi-natural water balance and adapting water usage to the impacts of the climate crisis. Especially in settlement areas, the aim is to restore green areas and unseal concreted surfaces. In this way, metropolitan regions should be able in the long term not only to consume water but to store it in a natural manner.

“The consequences of the climate crisis for humankind and nature are forcing us to act,” Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said. “The past years of drought have had a marked impact on our forests, lakes and rivers, as well as on agriculture.”

Germany is a water-rich country, but weeks of high temperatures and scant rainfall in recent years have drained the water levels of the Rhine river, the country’s commercial artery, and hit farmers’ crops in many parts of the country.

Local and federal governments should be able to keep an overview on where and how much water is available in the country through a new registry system, the 120-page strategy showed.

Although Germans have lower daily water consumption levels compared with other industrialised countries, the strategy examines introducing incentives for saving water.