The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) is a millstone in the history of water policies in Europe. The Directive establishes a common framework for sustainable and integrated management of all waters. It covers groundwater, inland surface waters, transitional waters and coastal waters and demands that all impact factors as well as economic implications are taken into account.
The ultimate objective of the Directive is to achieve good status of all water bodies in the EU member states and associated states by 2015. The cornerstone of WFD is the demand for integration. Though integrated water management has been the end goal for a long time, there is now a legislative encouragement to implement this concept fully within a short time frame.
The WFD requires holistic thinking and approaches to water resources management and represents the Integrated Resources Management approach of Europe. It calls for integration and interaction between water use sectors (agriculture, water supply and sanitation, industry, energy, recreation, etc) and between stakeholders (government, private sector, civil society, etc.)
The key elements of Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) are:
Classification of water bodies
All water bodies must be characterized and assigned a number of classification criteria and the human impact on the environment has to be explained.
Integrated surface water and groundwater
Models that integrate surface water and groundwater are necessary for a proper analysis of the interactions of this two water bodies.
Ecological and chemical status as well as environmental flow and groundwater quantity are important factors. The facilitation of the use of monitoring results in decision making is especially crucial.
Pressures and impact analysis
Identification and quantification of impacts of human activity on groundwater and surface water require analysis of monitoring data while mass balance and dynamic modeling are strong tools for such evaluations. This analysis forms the basis for the calculation of costs related to obtaining the goals.
Economic analyses of cost-recovery of water services and cost-effectiveness of measures to achieve the environmental objectives are indispensable in the baseline analyses and for the definition of measure programs. A close relation between environmental and economic analyses is necessary to get the best value for money.
Program of measures
Plans to achieve the environmental objectives must be described. Powerful modeling tools with GIS interfaces can be utilized to analyze the effect of change of land use, water usage and water abstraction, or point and diffuse pollution.
Measure programs, management plans, etc. must be exposed to public and stakeholder discussions. Modern web technology is an important aid to this process.