Tag Archives: Surface water

Water Protection and Management

Water protection and management

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Water protection and management


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Water protection and management

Water protection and management

Some 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by seas and oceans, and these produce almost three quarters of the oxygen we breathe. We can use directly only 1% of this water, however, and many forms of human activity put water resources under considerable pressure. Polluted water, whatever the source of the pollution, flows one way or another back into our natural surroundings – into the sea or water tables – from where it can have a harmful effect on human health and the environment. One of the most important pieces of legislation in this area is the Water Framework Directive.


  • Water protection and management (Water Framework Directive)
  • Pricing and long-term management of water
  • Flood management and evaluation
  • Droughts and water scarcity
  • Urban waste water treatment


  • Quality of drinking water
  • Bathing water quality (until 2014)
  • Bathing water quality
  • Water suitable for fish-breeding
  • Quality of shellfish waters


  • Strategy for the marine environment
  • Maritime safety: compensation fund for oil pollution damage
  • Maritime safety: prevention of pollution from ships
  • Ship-source pollution and criminal penalties
  • Maritime safety: prohibition of organotin compounds on ships
  • Maritime safety: Bunkers Convention


  • European Union Strategy for Danube Region
  • Baltic Sea Strategy
  • Environment strategy for the Mediterranean
  • Strategy to improve maritime governance in the Mediterranean
  • Black Sea Synergy
  • Danube – Black Sea region

Regional convention

  • Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean
  • Helsinki Convention on the protection of the Baltic Sea
  • Helsinki Convention: trans-boundary watercourses and international lakes
  • Convention for the Protection of the Rhine
  • OSPAR Convention


  • Industrial emissions
  • Integrated pollution prevention and control (until 2013)
  • Environmental quality standards applicable to surface water
  • Protection of groundwater against pollution
  • Detergents
  • Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
  • Agricultural nitrates
  • Community strategy concerning mercury
  • Protection of the aquatic environment against discharges of dangerous substances (until 2013)
  • Other substances: protection of groundwater



Another Normative about Water protection and management


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Agriculture > Environment

Water protection and management (Water Framework Directive)

Document or Iniciative

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 [See amending acts].


The European Union (EC) has established a framework for the protection of:

  • inland surface waters *;
  • groundwater *;
  • transitional waters *; and
  • and coastal waters *.

This Framework-Directive has a number of objectives, such as preventing and reducing pollution, promoting sustainable water usage, environmental protection, improving aquatic ecosystems and mitigating the effects of floods and droughts.

Its ultimate objective is to achieve “good ecological and chemical status” for all Community waters by 2015.

Administrative arrangements

Member States have to identify all the river basins * lying within their national territory and to assign them to individual river basin districts *. River basins covering the territory of more than one Member State will be assigned to an international river basin district.

Member States are to designate a competent authority for the application of the rules provided for in this Framework-Directive within each river basin district.

Identification and analysis of waters

By 2004 at the latest, each Member State shall produce:

  • an analysis of the characteristics of each river basin district;
  • a review of the impact of human activity on water;
  • an economic analysis of water use;
  • a register of areas requiring special protection;
  • a survey of all bodies of water used for abstracting water for human consumption and producing more than 10 m³ per day or serving more than 50 persons.

This analysis must be revised in 2013 and every six years thereafter.

Management plans and programmes of measures

In 2009, nine years after the Framework-Directive entered into force, management plans were produced for each river basin district, taking account of the results of the analyses and studies carried out. These plans cover the period 2009-2015. They shall be revised in 2015 and then every six years thereafter.

The management plans must be implemented in 2012. They aim to:

  • prevent deterioration, enhance and restore bodies of surface water, achieve good chemical and ecological status of such water by 2015 at the latest and to reduce pollution from discharges and emissions of hazardous substances;
  • protect, enhance and restore the status of all bodies of groundwater, prevent the pollution and deterioration of groundwater, and ensure a balance between groundwater abstraction and replenishment;
  • preserve protected areas.

The management plans for river basin districts can be complemented by more detailed management programmes and plans for a sub-basin, a sector or a particular type of water.

Temporary deterioration of bodies of water is not in breach of the requirements of this Framework-Directive if it is the result of circumstances which are exceptional or could not reasonably have been foreseen and which are due to an accident, natural causes or force majeure.

Member States shall encourage participation by all stakeholders in the implementation of this Framework-Directive, specifically with regard to the management plans for river basin districts. Projects from the management plans must be submitted to public consultation for at least 6 months.

From 2010, Member States must ensure that water pricing policies provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently and that the various economic sectors contribute to the recovery of the costs of water services, including those relating to the environment and resources.

Member States must introduce arrangements to ensure that effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties are imposed in the event of breaches of the provisions of this Framework Directive.

A list of priority substances selected from among the ones which present a significant risk to the aquatic environment has been drawn up at European level. This list is set out in Annex X to this Framework-Directive.

Key terms used in the act
  • Inland waters: all standing or flowing water on the surface of the land, and all groundwater on the landward side of the baseline from which the breadth of territorial waters is measured.
  • Surface water: inland waters, except groundwater, transitional waters and coastal waters, except in respect of chemical status, for which territorial waters are also included.
  • Groundwater: all water which is below the surface of the ground in the saturation zone and in direct contact with the ground or subsoil.
  • Transitional waters: bodies of surface water in the vicinity of river mouths which are partly saline in character as a result of their proximity to coastal waters but which are substantially influenced by freshwater flows.
  • Coastal water: surface water on the landward side of a line every point of which is at a distance of one nautical mile on the seaward side from the nearest point of the baseline from which the breadth of territorial waters is measured, extending where appropriate up to the outer limit of transitional waters.
  • River basin: the area of land from which all surface run-off flows through a sequence of streams, rivers and, possibly, lakes into the sea at a single river mouth, estuary or delta.
  • River basin district: the area of land and sea, made up of one or more neighbouring river basins together with their associated groundwaters and coastal waters, which is identified under Article 3(1) as the main unit for management of river basins.


Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2000/60/EC



OJ L 327 of 22.12.2000

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2455/2001/EC


OJ L 331 of 15.12.2001

Directive 2008/32/EC


OJ L 81 of 20.3.2008

Directive 2009/31/EC


OJ L 140 of 5.6.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2000/60/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated versionis of documentary value only.


Annex X – List of priority substances in the field of water policy

Directive 2008/105/EC [Official Journal L 348 of 24.12.2008].

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 22 March 2007 – Towards sustainable water management in the European Union – First stage in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC [COM(2007) 128 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

In this report the Commission sets out the results provided by the Member States concerning the application of the Water Framework Directive. Among other things, it mentions that there is a considerable risk that several Member States will fail to meet the targets set in the Framework Directive, in particular because of the physical deterioration of aquatic ecosystems, especially as a result of overexploitation of water resources and disturbing levels of pollution from diffuse sources. The Commission also indicates that there have been problems with meeting the deadline for incorporating the Framework Directive into national law and shortcomings in the actual transposition process in some cases. However, the establishment of river basin districts and the designation of the competent national authorities seem to be well under way, although progress does still need to be made with regard to international cooperation in some instances. The Commission also indicates that there are considerable differences in the quality of the environmental and economic assessments made in respect of river basins as well as shortcomings in the economic analyses carried out. The Commission finishes by making a number of recommendations to the Member States with a view to making good the shortcomings reported, integrating sustainable management of water into other national policies and making the most of public participation, and gives advance notice of what it plans to do in future in the context of European water management policy.

Report from the Commission of 1 April 2009 published in accordance with article 18.3 of the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC on programmes for monitoring of water status [COM(2009) 156 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Water Protection and Management in other Legal Encyclopedias

Klamath Basin Water Supply Enhancement Act of 2000 – American Legal Encyclopedia

Coastal Zone Management Act Of 1972 in the American Legal Encyclopedia

Agricultural nitrates

Agricultural nitrates

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Agricultural nitrates


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

Agricultural nitrates

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources [See amending act(s)].


Directive 91/676/EEC (henceforth referred to as the Nitrates Directive aims to protect waters in Europe by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources from polluting groundwater and surface waters by encouraging the use of good agricultural practices.

The Nitrates Directive is an integral part of the Water Framework Directive and is one of the key instruments for protecting water against agricultural pressures.

The implementation of the Directive will be carried out in a number of stages. Member States shall:

  • identify surface water and groundwater affected by pollution or at risk of being so, based on procedures and criteria detailed in the Directive (specifically when the concentration of nitrates in groundwater or surface water reaches 50 mg/l or when the surface water is eutrophic or is at risk of being so);
  • designate vulnerable zones, which are all known areas of land in their territories which drain into surface waters and groundwater which are affected by pollution or at risk of being so. The Nitrates Directive provides a possibility for Member States to be exempted from the requirement to designate vulnerable zones if the action programmes are applied to the whole of their national territory;
  • establish a code of good agricultural practice to be implemented by farmers on a voluntary basis, which shall include the measures detailed in Annex II to the Directive;
  • set up compulsory action programmes to be implemented by all farmers who work in vulnerable zones. These programmes must contain the measures listed in the good agricultural practice codes, as well as the additional measures listed in Annex III to the Directive, which aim to limit the land application of mineral and organic fertilisers containing nitrogen, as well as land application of livestock manure.

The Directive authorises Member States to take additional measures or to reinforce their action programmes in order to achieve the objectives of the Directive.

Member States must monitor water quality, applying standardised reference methods to measure the nitrogen-compound content.

The Commission has provided Member States with recommendations on monitoring methods and on the information which must be included in their reports on the application of this Directive. These reports shall be submitted by Member States to the Commission every four years.


Water pollution by nitrates has been made worse by the introduction of intensive farming methods, with increased use of chemical fertilisers and higher concentrations of animals in smaller areas.

Nitrate pollution is causing problems in all Member States. The sources of nitrate pollution are diffuse (multiple discharges which are difficult to locate).

The 1980s saw a progressive worsening of water quality owing to the growth of intensive livestock farming (chickens, pigs) in areas that were already saturated, and of intensive crop-growing involving the use of chemical weedkillers and overfertilisation.

The 1988 Frankfurt Ministerial Conference examined water protection legislation. The participants stressed that the legislation needed improving, and this resulted in the adoption of the Directive on Urban Waste Water and the Nitrates Directive.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 91/676/EEC



OJ L 375 of 31.12.1991


The Nitrates Directive provides the possibility for an exemption from the rule on the maximum quantity of 170 kg of nitrates per hectare and per year allowed for land application of livestock manure, on the condition that it can be established that the objectives of the Directive are still met and that the exemption is based on objectives criteria such as long growing seasons, crops with high nitrogen uptake, high net precipitation or soils with high denitrification capacity. The Commission shall decide whether to grant an exemption or not, based on advice provided by the Nitrates Committee who assists the Commission in the implementation of the Directive. The prerequisites for any exemption are the appropriate designation of nitrate vulnerable zones and action programmes which fully comply with the Directive. Furthermore, the exemption is only valid for the duration of the action programme.

List of exemptions granted:

Decision 2005/880/EC [Official Journal L 324 of 10.12.2005]
Extension of validity by:
Decision 2010/65/EU [Official Journal L 35 of 6.2.2010].
This exemption has been granted to the Netherlands until 31 December 2013.

Decision 2006/1013/EC [Official Journal L 382 of 28.12.2006]
Extension of validity by:
Decision 2009/753/EC [Official Journal L 268 of 13.10.2009].
This exemption has been granted to Germany until 31 December 2013.

Decision 2007/697/EC [Official Journal L 284 of 30.10.2007].

Extension of validity by:
Decision 2011/127/EU [Official Journal L 51 of 25.2.2011].
This exemption has been granted to Ireland. It is applicable until 31 December 2013.

Decision 2007/863/EC [Official Journal L 337 of 21.12.2007].

Extension of validity by:
Decision 2011/128/EU [Official Journal L 51 of 25.2.2011].

This exemption has been granted to the United Kingdom for Northern Ireland. It is applicable until 31 December 2014.

Decision 2008/64/EC [Official Journal L 16 of 19.1.2008].

Extension of validity by:
Decision 2011/489/EU [Official Journal L 200 of 3.8.2011].
This exemption has been granted to Belgium for Flanders. It is applicable until 31 December 2014.

Commission implementing Decision 2011/721/EU [Official Journal L 287 of 4.11.2011].

This exemption has been granted to Italy for the regions of Emilia Romagna, Lombardia, Piemonte and Veneto. It is applicable until 31 December 2015.

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003


OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008


OJ L 311 of 21.11.2008

The successive amendments and corrigenda to Directive 91/676/EEC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated versionis for reference only.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on implementation of Council Directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources based on Member State reports for the period 2004 – 2007 [COM(2010) 47 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Report is based on the information provided by the 27 Member States. 66 % of the groundwater quality monitoring stations showed stable or decreasing nitrate concentrations. However, 15 % of stations showed nitrate concentrations above the quality threshold of 50 mg per litre. The highest concentration of nitrates lies between 5 and 15 metres below the surface.
The quality of action programmes further improved as compared with the last reporting period in the EU 15. All new Member States established action programmes. In order to attain full compliance with the requirements of the Nitrates Directive, improvements are required, particularly with regards to storage construction, balanced fertilisation and establishment of periods during which land application is banned. In order to improve the implementation of programmes, better information for farmers and the application of efficient control programmes are essential.