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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

Waterborne transport

Waterborne transport

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Waterborne transport


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

Transport > Waterborne transport

Waterborne transport

Waterborne transport covers maritime transport and inland navigation. The European Union encourages growth in maritime transport through a number of actions such as the modernisation of infrastructures or the harmonisation of equipment and procedures. Improving maritime safety and protecting the marine environment are also priorities.
The considerable potential of river transport has largely yet to be tapped. It offers the advantage of reducing the amount of traffic on roads. The EU is committed to breathing new life into the sector, particularly through the Naïades Action Programme.


  • European maritime transport policy until 2018
  • Action plan for an integrated maritime policy
  • Programme for the promotion of short sea shipping
  • Maritime safety: European Maritime Safety Agency
  • Towards a European maritime transport space without barriers
  • Rights of passengers travelling by sea and inland waterway


  • Freedom to supply services, competition, unfair pricing practices and free access to ocean trade
  • Freedom to provide maritime transport services
  • The insurance of shipowners for maritime claims
  • Freedom to provide services within the Member States (ocean trade)
  • Reporting formalities for ships
  • State aid to shipbuilding (I)
  • Maritime safety: registration of persons on board passenger ships
  • Transfer of cargo and passenger ships between registers within the EU
  • Statistical returns for carriage of goods and passengers by sea


  • Port infrastructure: Green Paper
  • Port infrastructure: quality services in sea ports
  • Port facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues
  • LeaderSHIP 2015


  • Strengthening of maritime labour standards
  • Organisation of seafarers’ working time
  • Organisation of hours of work on board ships using Community ports
  • Inland waterways: access to the occupation of carrier of goods by waterway and mutual recognition of diplomas
  • Seafarer training and recruitment
  • Maritime safety: Minimum level of training of seafarers


  • Maritime safety: port State control
  • Maritime safety: Loading and unloading of bulk carriers
  • Maritime safety: Committee on Safe Seas
  • Maritime safety: International Safety Management (ISM) Code
  • Maritime safety: Erika I package
  • Maritime safety: accelerated phasing-in of double-hull oil tankers
  • Maritime safety: organisations responsible for monitoring and inspecting vessels (recast)
  • Ship inspection and survey organisations: legal framework
  • Maritime safety: Erika II
  • Compliance with flag State requirements
  • Maritime safety: Community monitoring, control and information system for maritime traffic
  • Maritime safety: tonnage measurement of ballast spaces in segregated ballast oil tankers
  • Safety rules and standards for passenger ships
  • Maritime safety: system of mandatory surveys for regular ro-ro ferry and high-speed passenger craft services
  • Liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents
  • Maritime safety: marine equipment
  • Satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)


  • A strategy for better ship dismantling practices
  • Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships
  • Maritime safety: prohibition of organotin compounds on ships
  • Maritime safety: prevention of pollution from ships
  • Ship-source pollution and criminal penalties
  • Maritime safety: Bunkers Convention
  • Maritime safety: compensation fund for oil pollution damage


  • Promotion of inland waterway transport “NAIADES”
  • Inland navigation: structural improvements
  • Inland navigation: Community-fleet capacity policy
  • Inland navigation: reciprocal recognition of national boatmasters’ certificates for inland waterway navigation
  • Inland navigation: non-resident carriers
  • Inland navigation: harmonisation of conditions for obtaining national boatmasters’ certificates
  • Inland navigation: transport of goods or passengers by inland waterway between Member States
  • Inland navigation: conditions attached to chartering and pricing
  • Inland waterways: River information services
  • Technical requirements for inland waterway vessels
  • Inland transport of dangerous goods


  • Maritime security: Ship and port facility security
  • Port infrastructure: enhancing port security

Water suitable for fish-breeding

Water suitable for fish-breeding

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Water suitable for fish-breeding


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 suitable for fish-breeding

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2006/44/EC of 6 September 2006 on the quality of fresh waters needing protection or improvement in order to support fish life [See Amending Act(s)].


The quality of fresh water is essential for aquatic life. In order to ensure that fish populations living in water-courses and lakes develop in a balanced way, the European Union (EU) lays down quality criteria applying to designated waters. Compliance with these criteria enables pollution to be reduced or eliminated, and various fresh water fish species to be maintained at balanced levels.


This Directive covers running or standing fresh waters which support or could become capable of supporting fish in sufficient numbers to maintain a natural balance and diversity.

The Directive does not cover waters in natural or artificial fish ponds used for intensive fish-farming.


Member States are required to designate the fresh waters which are to be considered suitable for fish-breeding. These are subdivided into two categories:

  • salmonid waters: waters which support or become capable of supporting fish belonging to species such as salmon, trout, grayling or whitefish;
  • cyprinid waters: waters which support or become capable of supporting fish belonging to the cyprinids or other species such as pike, perch and eel.

Member States may amend the list of designated waters as result of factors that are unknown at the date of designation.

National programmes

Member States shall establish 5-year programmes to reduce pollution or improve the quality of designated waters.

Quality criteria

This Directive determines:

  • physical and chemical parameters applying to designated salmonid and cyprinid waters,
  • guide values and mandatory values,
  • methods of analysis or inspection, and
  • minimum sampling and measuring frequency.

According to these criteria, Member States lay down values to be observed in designated fish-breeding waters. Such limit values may be more severe than those imposed by this Directive.


Provision is also made for derogation from the provisions of this Directive owing to special weather or geographical conditions or to the natural enrichment of water with certain substances.


This Directive replaces Directive 78/659/EEC, without changing the basic provisions.

The Framework Directive in the field of water policy provides for the Directive to be repealed on 22 December 2013.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2006/44/EC


OJ L 264, 25.9.2006

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

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008


OJ L 311, 21.11.2008

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2006/44/EC have been included in the basic text. This consolidated versionis only of documentary value.