The water framework directive is a European Union directive that pledge its member countries to ensure that all water bodies are protected, kept clean and there quantitative and qualitative statue maintained, improved and protected. According to Kaika (2013, pp.229-316), It is also known as “the directive 2000/60/EC of the European parliament and of the council establishing a framework for the community action in the field of water policy.” The directive came into action after it was agreed upon by all the members in the union. The framework has been restructured over time and the latest operational directive with updated amendments that expand the scope for refuge of all waters and put down to paper clear objectives to be achieved by member states with specific duration was adopted and published in the official journal (OJL 327) on 22nd December, 2000. It assists the states in the union to compare their results so that they can know what methods work for protection of the status of water bodies and are worth being adopted to make sure that “better” status for the water bodies are met and that no destruction, deterioration or pollution occurs. Additionally, the directive aid member states to cushion and trump alluring landscapes with easy to access and fine waterways that are used productively in the improvement and support of human and wildlife.
Water bodies are cardinal natural resources. They provide water for recreational, domestic, industrial and commercial purposes as well as a habitat for aquatic life. In the recent year, however, there has been massive population as a result of human and non-human activities such as waste dumping by human or industries, chemical emissions, and spillages. This has necessitated the need for measures to curb the situation and ensure that a long term solution for the possibility of this kind of problems in the future if found. The directive’s objective is therefore, to ensures that the appropriate status for underground, inland surface water such as lakes and rivers, transitional water such as estuaries, coastal waters and marine waters limited to a nautical mile from the shore is maintained, protected and improved. To achieve the aim and the objective, the directive demands that the members of the European Union take new holistic approaches to clean all populated water and keep the already clean water as clean as possible for their safety, health and wealth.
Inland, transitional and coastal waters are awarded various statuses based on their health. These statuses are; High, good, Moderate, poor and bad. The water mass with the best health is awarded a high while the one with least health is awarded a bad. Ground water has only two statuses; Good for healthy and poor for the unhealthy. The status is assessed using the one for all criteria. This means that if a water mass is good in all but one of the assessing factors then the whole water mass is considered poor. The assessing factors are categorized into: biological quality, hydro morphological quality, physical-chemical quality and chemical quality. Biological quality which looks into the health of fishes, benthic invertebrates and aquatic plants, Hydro morphological quality which looks into the flow of water bodies and how the flow is impacted by the structure of the bank, the continuity and the river bed substrate, physical-chemical looks into factors such as the nutrient levels, the oxygen level and the temperature of the water body, lastly the chemical quality looks into various types of pollutants the water bodies are exposed to (Kallis and Butler 2001, pp.125-142).
The accomplishment of the objectives of the EU water framework directive are organized in such a way that each member state is required to create districts of river basin and also establish management structures and plans for them. The structures and plans of management for the river basin districts follow cycles of six years each. The first cycle ran between the years 2009 and 2015, the second cycle will therefore run up to 2012 (Kaika 2013, pp229-316). The proceeding cycle looks into the river basins in which the objectives the were not met, the reason why the objectives were not met and tries to adopt the methods that worked in other river basins and new improved methods to ensure that the set objectives are met by the set deadline. Every cycle has four unique features namely; continuous environmental evaluation, characterization and evaluation of the effects encountered in the river basin district, laying down of the environmental objectives and lastly creating and putting into action various steps requires to ensure that the objectives are met (Kallis and Butler 2001, pp.125-142).
Besides the water framework directive that ensures that all the water bodies in the European Union are protected for intentional and non-intentional damages by human or non-human activities there are other EU directives that govern other areas such as finance, accounting, environment, energy, technology etc. The ones that relate specifically relate to the environment to protect it from unwarranted harm are the waste and pollution directive, nature and wildfire directive, the flood directive etc.
The major difference between the EU water framework directive and other EU legislations is laid down in article 14 of the directive. According to the article, all the members of the European Union are required to involve the citizens who dwell along the catchments of the water bodies, perform their day-to day jobs along or in the water bodies, or receive recreational services along or within the water bodies. The article requires the member states to include this kind of people in the management and in key decision making processes that relate to protection and conservation of the water masses. It is through this that the countries of the European Union understand the manner in which this kind of people use the water and the likely risks that may result to pollution. Other minor difference between the water directive framework and other legislation is the six-year cyclic nature of the management plan and the strict deadline set for meeting the objectives of the directive.
Kaika, M., 2003. The Water Framework Directive: A new directive for a changing social, political and economic European framework. European Planning Studies, 11(3). pp.229-316.
Kallis, G. and Butler, D., 2001. The EU water framework directive: measures and implications. Water policy, 3(2), pp.125-142.
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