Securing Clean and Healthy Rivers | WWF
Securing Clean and Healthy Rivers

Posted on 27 March 2015

Second Cycle River Basins Management Plans - an opportunity for improved water management in Europe
Find out what are WWF recommendations in the attached position paper on the Second Cycle River Basins Management Plans.

In short:
* Improve implementation and enforcement of the WFD, including through a better use of WFD economic instruments, ensuring full recovery of costs, and through promotion of nature based solutions.

* Increase the ambition of 2nd cycle River Basin Management Plans (2015-2021) and associated Programmes of Measures, which will ensure European waters are brought to Good Status by 2021.

* Ensure that all derogations and exemptions from WFD objectives are applied restrictively and in exceptional cases only in order to uphold the purpose and effect of the WFD.

*  Prevent ‘affordability’ being used as justification for exemptions and thus ensure that it does not undermine the fundamental objectives of the WFD. Affordability, which is a concept absent from the WFD and is a separate concern from disproportionate expense, cannot in the context of WFD be understood as an assessment of whether measures required to reach the set WFD objectives are too expensive for a sector or a business to implement. Moreover, assessing total expenditure across a MS (costs for public budgets), cannot be used to justify any type of derogation. Disproportionate cost analysis must therefore be carried out independently of any issue of ‘affordability’.

*  Better coordinate between water and nature legislation, including by integration of Birds and Habitats Directives’ Protected Areas into the RBMP.

* Ensure that the remaining free-flowing and unaltered stretches of rivers are protected for their biodiversity and ecological values and not left open to further hydropower development and accommodations to fit inland navigation.

*  Systematically integrate quantitative elements in water use management, including through defining and implementing ecological flows, and promote ecosystem based measures to tackling impacts of floods and droughts events, which significantly increased over the past 10 years.

* Ensure that any existing and future EU climate and energy policies are compatible with the WFD by considering ecological impacts on the affected water bodies and yielding synergies and co-benefits for both policy areas.

* Ensure there are in place sufficient Basic Measures and any additional Measures needed to address agricultural diffuse pollution, and that there are mechanisms adopted to secure compliance with these measures.

* Include basic WFD measures in the cross-compliance system of the Common Agricultural Policy.

* Ensure that Member States continue to report success towards Good Status as required by the WFD ‘One Out All Out’ Principle. This principle is one of the underlying and most indispensable principles of water management ensuring in a comprehensive manner the Good Status of European Waters. Use of ‘alternate success factors’ does not represent achievement of Good Status.

* Where time exemptions have been used, Member States must set out a timetable and plan by which the exemptions will be overcome within the 2nd cycle RBMP. Where ‘natural conditions’ has been used as a reason for employing exemptions delaying achievement of Good Status, there should be clear justification to show that the correct measures have been taken to overcome the identified pressures in the RBMP.
Danube Delta
© Michel Gunther / WWF