Update 3/5/09 - ART submitted a National response to the draft River Basin Management Plans, we feel the final plans must:
- Have more ambition for the first round than is in the current drafts, otherwise WFD delivery will not be achieved. The rivers trust movement can help to achieve that higher level of ambition.
- Be clearer about the condition of our rivers and other water bodies in ways that are easily understandable to stakeholder organisations, and offer them clear means by which they can contribute to delivery.
- Recognise that rivers trusts can be one of the primary co‐deliverers for many Water Framework Directive activities, including public participation and consultation, monitoring, research, developing plans, raising funds and implementing Programme of Measures.
- Be more transparent about the use of derogations concerning time, technical understanding, feasibility or cost. Plans need to factor in the contribution that rivers trusts can make to overcoming these problems so that derogation can be quickly replaced by positive measures.
- Seek to enable, not restrict, future work on catchment and river basin management and seek to develop a system capable of taking account of developments in science, technology, environmental condition, economic stimulae and funding to deliver a dynamic and responsive WFD programme.
- Use WFD planning and measures to influence land use, and drive changes in planning and legislation (such as Common Agricultural Policy reform, PR09, Local Agenda 21, Local Development Frameworks, Habitats and Flooding Directives) to solve problems at source. This includes the need to think big where appropriate and if necessary seek intervention to achieve the desired change.
- Reflect the true breadth of measures possible to achieve WFD objectives, spreading reliance out from ECSFDI and Environmental Stewardship Agreements to incorporate the work of rivers trusts.
- Demonstrate the vital nature of a good quality environment as a cornerstone to Sustainable long‐term Economic and Social Development. We feel it is appropriate to highlight WFD Article 9.3 that stipulates the social and economic effects of cost recovery shall not prevent the “funding of preventive or remedial measures in order to achieve the objectives of this Directive”.
from Environment Agency WFD website and DEFRA WFD
Water Framework Directive
- The UK situation
The Water Framework Directive
2000/60/EC (WFD) is the most significant piece of
European water legislation to be produced for over
The WFD will rationalise
and update existing water legislation and introduce
an integrated and co-ordinated approach to water
management in Europe based on the concept of river
The Directive takes a holistic approach to water
management and will update existing EC Water legislation
through the introduction of a statutory system of
analysis and planning based upon the river basin.
The UK Government(s) have until Dec 2003 to transpose
the Water Framework Directive into UK legislation.
Following transposition, the Environment Agency
will be the sole competent authority charged with
implementation of the Directive in England and Wales.
The major aims of the Directive
• To prevent further
deterioration and protect and enhance the status
of aquatic ecosystems and associated wetlands;
• To promote the sustainable consumption of
water; to reduce pollution of waters from priority
• To prevent the deterioration in the status
and to progressively reduce pollution of groundwaters;
• To contribute to mitigating the effects
of floods and droughts.
The overall requirement
of the Directive is to achieve "good ecological
and good chemical status" by 2015 unless there
are grounds for derogation. There is also a general
"no deterioration" provision to prevent
deterioration in status. These will require the
management of the quality, quantity and structure
of aquatic environments. The Directive also requires
the reduction and ultimate elimination of priority
hazardous substances and the reduction of priority
substances to below set quality standards.
Within the Agency work on the Directive is being
organised in the WFD Programme, which is supported
by a number of key work areas, for further information,
see the link below:
Implementation of the Water Framework Directive in the
- Pressures and Impacts Assessment Review
The UK devolved Governments
have until December 2003 to transpose the Water
Framework Directive into domestic legislation. Following
transposition the Environment Agency will be named
the sole competent authority charged with the Directive's
implementation in England and Wales.
To assist in the implementation
of the Water Framework Directive (WFD):
• Three consultations
have been carried out by Defra and the Welsh Assembly
Government on the implementation of the Water Framework
• The UK Technical Advisory Group (UK TAG)
has been established by the UK Administrations to
provide agreed UK technical advice and solutions;
• Establishment of the Common Implementation
Strategy (CIS) to allow as far as possible, a coherent
and harmonious implementation of the Water Framework
Directive across the EU.
For further information on the transposition of
the Directive, CIS and UK TAG, follow the links
What if a water body
fails to meet its environmental objectives?
The 2000 EC Water Framework Directive (the Directive)
is the most significant piece of European water
legislation for over 20 years. It requires man-made
pressures on the water environment, such as sewage
discharge and water abstraction, to be assessed
and managed in an integrated way. It applies to
all waters including rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal
waters and groundwater.
To put the Directive into practice, we must change
the management and protection of the water environment.
The Directive sets out a planning cycle, with four
and economic assessment or "characterisation"
of river basin districts and the pressures and impacts
on the water environment;
monitoring based on the river basin characterisation;
and carrying out a programme of measures to achieve
the environmental objectives.
Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs) are managing the economic characterisation
work. Please see link on the Defra website for more
of the quality review - Details the purpose of the
quality review of the draft pressures and impacts
is River Basin Characterisation? - Explains the
background to river basin characterisation for the
Water Framework Directive.
are the pressures and impacts assessments? - Information
on what the pressure and impact assessment maps
show and how the data were derived.
• How can
I get involved? - Contains downloadable pressure
and impact maps and information on how you can provide
comments on them.
happens next? - Explains the process of submitting
the final maps to Defra and where to go for more
If a water body is likely
to fail its environmental objectives:
• this water body
will be included in the first river basin management
planning process in which a programme of measures
will be considered;
What is River Basin
• alternative objectives will be considered
(for example, a longer timescale for meeting good
• we will need to consider whether good status
can be achieved without disproportionate costs;
• we will need to check whether existing improvement
plans, including water company investment programmes,
will address the shortfall;
• new and transferring licence applications
related to these water bodies will be given priority
If a water body is likely to meet its environmental
• at present we have no major concerns but will
review the assessment in future years;
• we still need to regulate pressures and monitor
to ensure that no deterioration occurs.
River Basin Districts
and Water Bodies
The Water Framework Directive
sets out a river basin management planning process.
For each river basin district (RBD) a river basin
management plan (RBMP) will be prepared, implemented
and reviewed on a six-year cycle. River Basin Characterisation
is an important early part of this process, which
for each RBD, requires the following:
• an analysis of its
• a review of the impact of human activity
on the status of the water bodies within the RBD;
• an economic analysis of water use.
There are two main stages
to environmental characterisation. The first is
identifying water bodies and describing their natural
characteristics. The second stage is assessing the
pressures and impacts on the water environment.
The assessment identifies those water bodies that
are unlikely to achieve the environmental objectives
set out in the Directive. The results will be used
to prioritise both our environmental monitoring
and those water bodies where improvement action
The analysis has been difficult and complex. Previous
environmental assessments have focused on pollution
pressures and have been supported by extensive chemical
and biological monitoring information. Under River
Basin Characterisation, we have developed new methods
of analysis for integrating and interpreting information
on different types of pressure.
The following kinds of pressure
have been examined for their potential impacts on
• point source pollution,
such as effluent discharges from sewage treatment
works and industry;
• diffuse source pollution, including run-off
from the land and acid rain;
• water abstraction, including removal of
water for public supplies or manufacturing; and
flow regulation, including the control of river
flows for hydro-electric power, navigation, water
supplies or other purposes;
• physical or "morphological" alterations
to water bodies, such as land claim for development,
flood defence structures or channel modifications.
This is only the first
step towards improving the aquatic environment through
the river basin management planning process. The
information will continually be improved and refined,
making the next cycle of characterisation easier
and more robust than this first assessment.
For more information on river basin characterisation,
follow the link to our briefing note.
River Basin Districts
River Basin Districts will
be the main areas for co-ordinating management of
the water environment. They comprise river basins
and their associated coastal waters. There are 11
River Basin Districts in England and Wales. Two
cross the border with Scotland, the Solway Tweed
District and Northumbria District, and a further
two, the Dee and Severn Districts, cross the border
between Wales and England.
River basins are made up of lakes, rivers, groundwater,
estuaries and coastal waters, together with the
land they drain. The water cycle links all these
waters from the highest hilltops to the sea at the
river mouth, estuaries and open coastal waters.
There are important ecological connections across
river basins. For example, sea trout migrate from
coastal waters into river basins to spawn in streams
often far from the river mouth. Their young hatch
and grow, before moving into rivers and leaving
fresh waters to reach adulthood in coastal waters.
The waters of England and Wales have been divided
into water bodies. These are lakes and parts of
rivers, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater.
They include artificial water bodies, such as canals,
and heavily modified water bodies, such as deepened
and straightened rivers. Environmental objectives
will be set for each water body.
Management and reporting
of river basin districts
The Directive recognises that decisions about the
different parts of a River Basin District should
not be made in isolation. The river basin planning
system is designed to ensure that the management
of each water body takes account of its importance
to the condition of the District as a whole. For
example, a badly designed dam on a river or a badly
polluted estuary could disrupt the life cycle of
migratory animals such as sea trout.
For each river basin district
we will produce plans describing:
• its environmental
character (identifying water bodies and their natural
characteristics, including protected areas, and
assessing the main pressures and impacts on them);
• monitoring programmes;
• objectives for the water bodies;
• an action plan or programme of measures
to achieve the environmental objectives.
The Water Framework Directive
requires the identification of River Basin Districts
(RBD). These districts are areas of land and sea,
made up of one or more river basins together with
their associated groundwaters and coastal waters.
of environmental objectives established by the Directive,
particularly all programmes of measures, must be co-ordinated
for the whole of the River Basin District, and reported
to the European Commission as such. River Basin Districts
in England and Wales have been determined using hydrological
river basin boundaries. Small river basins may be
joined with larger river basins, or joined with neighbouring
small basins to create a RBD. Groundwaters that do
not follow a particular river basin are assigned to
the nearest or most appropriate RBD.
(out to 1 nautical mile) in England and Wales, are
assigned to the nearest or most appropriate RBD. There
are nine RBDs identified in England and Wales, and
an additional two cross-border RBDs with Scotland
(Northumbria RBD and the Solway Tweed RBD). To view
the RBDs in pdf format, follow the link below. A1
maps will be made available at the Environment Agency's
Regional office's and main Area office's. Protected Areas
Improved and protected
inland and coastal waters
Protected areas are designated
for special protection under specific EC directives.
This is either to protect their surface water or
groundwater, or to conserve habitats and species
that directly depend on those waters.
For each river basin district a register of protected
areas must be drawn up to help ensure that water
management contributes to achieving the objectives
set for them.
Our register consists of a database and a set of
maps of all the protected areas, as summarised below.
Waters used for the
abstraction of drinking water
This is a new category of protected area which will
replace the system of drinking water protection
currently provided by the Surface Water Abstraction
Directive (75/440/EEC), which will be repealed at
the end of 2007. Each protected area is an identified
surface water body or groundwater body which provides
Areas designated to
protect economically significant species
These are protected areas established under earlier
EC directives aimed at protecting shellfish (79/923/EEC)
and freshwater fish (78/659/EEC).
These are bathing waters designated under the Bathing
Water Directive (76/160/EEC), including both coastal
and freshwater areas. Standards are set to protect
and improve their quality to safeguard human health.
Nutrient sensitive areas
These comprise nitrate vulnerable zones and polluted
waters designated under the Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC)
and areas designated as sensitive areas under the
Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC).
Areas designated for
the protection of habitats or species
The maintenance or improvement of the water environment
is an important factor in the protection of these
areas. They comprise the aquatic parts of Natura
2000 sites designated under the Birds Directive
(79/409/EEC) and the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).
under the Water Framework Directive
Our rivers, lakes and coastal waters will be far
cleaner. They will sustain diverse and healthy ecosystems,
water sports and recreation such as boating and
fishing, and those uses needed by a thriving and
The outcomes we will
Abstractions and discharges will neither damage
the environment nor threaten human health.
Damaging pollution incidents will have been prevented
The causes of water pollution, eutrophication, and
acidification will have been fully controlled.
The quantities of chemicals entering the sea will
have been greatly reduced.
Surface waters will sustain a diverse variety of
habitats and wildlife.
Water will be acknowledged as a valuable resource.
Surface waters will be regarded as a recreational
and amenity asset.
Inland and coastal waters will be cherished by local
What we will do:
We will work to clean up polluted waters and to
reduce the risk of further pollution. We will ensure
that aquatic and wetland wildlife has the amount
of clean, healthy water it requires.
How will stakeholders (including
the general public) feed into the River Basin Management
Plan consultation process?
The need for public involvement
is an important feature of the Water Framework Directive
and in certain areas (eg. development of River Basin
Management Plans) will be statutory.
The term "public participation" does not
appear in the Directive. The term has been used
as a surrogate for the requirements of Article 14.
However, "public participation" covers
a wider range of "stakeholder engagement"
approaches than is required by the Directive. Three
forms of "stakeholder engagement" are
referred to in Article 14:
• Access to background
• Consultation in three steps of the planning
• Active involvement of interested parties
in all aspects of the implementation of the WFD
The Environment Agency intends to devise an approach
to "WFD public participation" that has
"consultation" and "access to information"
at its core but that also includes wider "active
involvement" where this is necessary to help
meet the requirements of the WFD.
While the WFD doesn’t provide complete definitions
or approaches for Article 14 and Annex VII requirements,
guidance has been produced at the European level
to clarify and develop the understanding necessary
to assist the practical implementation of the Directive.
The UK environment agencies have contributed to
The Agency is in the process of developing a more
coherent and consistent approach to consultation
/ involvement through:
• A social policy framework
• A communication strategy on how to engage
• Development of an Agency business process
for consultation and involvement
Further information on