Policy Background - European Water Directive

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

(a) prevents further deterioration and protects and enhances the status of aquatic ecosystems and, with regard to their water needs, terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands directly depending on the aquatic ecosystems; (b) promotes sustainable water use based on a long-term protection of available water resources; (c) aims at enhanced protection and improvement of the aquatic environment, inter alia, through 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 the priority hazardous substances; (d) ensures the progressive reduction of pollution of groundwater and prevents its further pollution, and (e) contributes to mitigating the effects of floods and droughts

Government bodies of the EC member states are requested to implement the directive into national law and to identify river basin districts and responsible authorities (Art. 23, Art. 3) until 2003. The basic units of the directive have to be defined until end of 2004 (Art. 5). A monitoring network has to be established and accompanied by public relations work until 2006. In 2008 draft river management plans have to be in a form to be presented to the public. For 2009, the finalised river management plans should include milestones and an implementation plan to achieve the specific objectives (Art. 13, Art 11). Following this timetable it is expected that member states of the European Union will meet the environmental objectives in 2015.