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Publications and Reports

Water Framework Directive

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The Water Framework Directive (WFD) (Directive 2000/60/EC) was published in October 2000 and is the most important piece of European water legislation. It sets out rules to halt deterioration in the status of European Union (EU) water bodies and achieve ‘good status’ for Europe's rivers, lakes and groundwater.
Specifically, this includes:

  • protecting all forms of water (surface-, ground-, inland- and transitional-);
  • restoring the ecosystems in and around these bodies of water;
  • reducing pollution in water bodies;
  • guaranteeing sustainable water usage by individuals and businesses.

The legislation places clear responsibilities on national authorities. They have to:

  • identify the individual river basins on their territory — that is, the surrounding land areas that drain into particular river systems;
  • designate authorities to manage these basins in line with the EU rules;
  • analyse the features of each river basin, including the impact of human activity and an economic assessment of water use;
  • monitor the status of the water in each basin;
  • register protected areas, such as those used for drinking water, which require special attention;
  • produce and implement ‘river-basin management plans’ to prevent deterioration of surface water, protect and enhance groundwater and preserve protected areas;
  • ensure the cost of water services is recovered so that the resources are used efficiently and polluters pay;
  • provide public information and consultation on their river-basin management plans.

The WFD adopts a river basin management cycle approach recurring every six years to allow for improved assessment methodologies and the further development of river basin plans. The relevant local authorities must act jointly to make a RBMP and to establish management measures for each river basin district. EU Member States reported their second River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) for the period 2015-2021 to the European Commission under the WFD as of March 2016.

Reference information

Official Journal of the European Communities

Published in Climate-ADAPT Jun 07 2016   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Dec 12 2023

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