Water Framework Directive

Title: The Water Framework Directive

Category: EU Directive

Date: 1998

References: 2000/60/EC [Full text] See also European Commission Guide 'Tap into It'

General Description:

This Directive sets out to establish a Community framework for the protection of surface waters and groundwater across the EU. It aims to provide a common approach with common objectives, principals and basic measures designed to prevent any further deterioration of surface and groundwaters and to protect and enhance the quality and quantity of aquatic eco-systems and, with regard to their water needs, terrestrial systems.

The Directives three main aims are:

Firstly, to ensure sustainability of water use into the next century, by requiring that all water, both surface water and groundwater, reaches good status by the year 2010. This takes into account for the first time the integral connection between quality and quantity of water. For good status to be achieved, both the absence of damaging pollution and sustainable flow and recharge are required, and good status implies both low levels of chemical contamination and the presence of a flourishing ecosystem.

Secondly, it will change the pattern of water use by making those who pollute pay the costs of the damage they cause. It begins the integration of the full cost of water uses into the price paid for the water, to ensure that costs are not born downstream by the rest of society and by future generations. This should stimulate a far more rational and sustainable use pattern.

And thirdly, it will ensure that all measures on water policy work together coherently. For each river basin, Member States must coordinate their actions, integrating all the existing water policy measures. The results of all these activities must be set out in a river basin management plan which will be developed with full public participation.

The European commission, via the OSPAR Convention agreement, has proposed a list of priority substances, including many pesticides, which will be targeted with the aim of improving water quality. The pesticides listed include: alachlor, atrazine, chlorfenvinphos, chlorpyrifos, diuron, endosulfan, isoproturon, lindane (gamma-HCH), simazine and trifluralin. These have been selected according to the risk to aquatic life and to human health from polluted waters.

This Directive replaces the Surface Water Directive (75/440/EEC), the Fishwater Directive and the the Shellfish Water Directive.

Pertinence to Agriculture: Groundwater, Surface Water

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