Global water consumption has increased 7-fold since the start of the 20th century. Water resources are likely to start to run out due to population growth, agricultural demands and reduction in recharge with climate change. Alternatives such as desalination are costly and energy demanding. In Europe groundwater provides up to 98% of potable water supplies in some countries. Consequently it will become more important to protect and enhance groundwater resources both in Europe and around the world.
There is chronic and widespread contamination of European land and aquifers with contaminants from industrial, agricultural, mining, military and other activities. The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that there are currently around 130,000 instances of groundwater contamination in Europe alone, while 3 million sites have potentially polluting activities. Considering the typical costs to remediate each site, the replacement value of that unusable groundwater is around €39B.