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Human impacts on freshwater systems are substantial in most populated parts of the world. Over-extraction of freshwater, mainly for agriculture, has lead to significant degradation of rivers, lakes and aquifers. Liberation of water for the environment through substitution with wastewater has been promoted as a means of reducing anthropogenic impacts (Hamilton et al. 2005ab). According to the water stress index i.e. the ratio of a country’s total water withdrawal to its total renewable freshwater resources, about half of the countries of Europe are under water stress (Bixio 2005).

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