WAT - Water Framework Directive

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    The European Parliament and the Council agreed on 23 October 2000 on the Directive establishing a framework for Community action on water policy (WAT-001).

    The aim of the Water Framework Directive is to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater which:

    1. Prevents from further deterioration, protects and enhances aquatic ecosystems and their water requirements, terrestrial ecosystems and water areas which directly depend on aquatic ecosystems;
    2. Promotes sustainable use of water, based on long-term protection of available water resources;
    3. Enhances protection and improvement of the aquatic environment, including specific measures for the progressive reduction of discharges, emissions and losses of priority substances and the cessation or phasing out of discharges, emissions and losses of priority hazardous substances;
    4. Ensures the progressive reduction of groundwater pollution and prevent further pollution;
    5. Contributes to mitigating the effects of floods and droughts.

    This will contribute to:

    • The availability of sufficient surface water and groundwater of good quality for a sustainable, balanced and equitable water use;
    • A significant reduction of groundwater pollution;
    • The protection of territorial and marine waters;
    • The achievement of the objectives of relevant international agreements, including those aimed at preventing and eliminating the pollution of the marine environment, by Community actions under Article 16, chapter 3. This in order to cease or phase-out discharges, emissions and losses of priority hazardous substances, in order to achieve concentrations near the background values for naturally occurring substances and to achieve near zero concentrations for synthetic substances.

    The Water Framework Directive requires Member States to adopt environmental quality goals and to develop river basin management plans before 2009 to ensure that these quality objectives are met and maintained. The ecological quality objectives are related to the characterisation of the affected body of water (natural, strongly modified or artificial water). Chemical quality targets will be established in the EU WFD Priority Substances Supplementary Directive (see DPS, chapter 42). Water Framework Directive extends to coastal waters (12 nautical miles for ecological quality objectives and 1 mile for chemical quality goals).

    Some relevant documents:
    WAT-001: Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (European Parliament and the Council)