Water Framework Directive

Why do we need this new Directive?

Currently, a range of inconsistent European legislation covers different aspects of water management. The Directive aims to introduce a simpler approach which will result in greater protection for a vital part of our environment.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) looks at the ecological health of surface water bodies (defined as a slight variation from undisturbed natural conditions), as well as achieving traditional chemical standards. In particular, it will help deal with diffuse pollution which remains a big issue after we have improved most point source discharges.

Successful implementation of the Water Framework Directive will help to protect all elements of the water cycle and enhance the quality of our groundwaters, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and seas.

As a result of the WFD, a number of existing European directives will be replaced.

Replaced by the end of 2007

• Surface Water Abstraction Directive – 75/440/EEC

• Exchange of Information on Surface Water Decision – 77/795/EEC

• Surface Water Abstraction Measurement / Analysis Directive – 79/869/EEC

Replaced by the end of 2013

• Freshwater Fish Directive – 78/659/EEC

• Shellfish Waters Directive – 79/923/EEC

• Groundwater Directive – 80/68/EEC

• Dangerous Substances Directive – 76/464/EEC

This will not reduce the way the water environment is protected in England and Wales. There is a requirement in the WFD that it must maintain the same protection which existed under these earlier directives.

The WFD will have implications for all sectors whose business activities directly or indirectly affect the water environment. These include the water industry, agriculture, the development, and construction industry and all businesses that have discharge consents, trade effluent licenses or abstraction licenses.

Full details of the WFD can be found on the DEFRA website as follows: