Restoring European rivers and lakes in cities improves quality of life
Rivers and lakes located in European cities and towns are getting cleaner thanks to improvements in
waste water treatment and restoration projects which have brought many waterways back to life. Based on 17 city case studies from across Europe, including Aarhus, Bucharest, Leipzig, Madrid, Oslo and Vienna, new forms of water management contribute to make our cities greener, smarter and more sustainable, but key challenges remain, according to a new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The EEA report ‘Rivers and lakes in European cities: Past and future challenges,’ assesses the strategies and measures authorities have taken in urban centres to improve the state of local rivers and lakes. Improvements in wastewater treatment and reduced industrial activities over the past three decades, urban rivers and lakes have become increasingly important in meeting the demand for a better, more sustainable quality of life. Urban rivers and lakes have gained a more positive image, providing space for recreation and offering an aesthetically pleasing environment as part of city regeneration projects. The report stresses that the restoration of rivers and lakes is a win-win situation, by improving flood control and ecological functions while offering recreational value and raising the quality of life in urban areas. Well-functioning and healthy waterways also mitigate the impacts of climate change in the city, such as increased temperatures already observed in city centres. The report calls for the proper implementation of European legislation, including the Water Framework Directive, Floods Directive and Habitats Directive to help deliver benefits. And it suggests that urban planning authorities also consider more stringent adaptation measures to mitigate the effects of climate change and to step up cooperation between water and development planners as well as including the views of city residents.
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