Experiences in Analysis of Pressures and Impacts from Agriculture on Water Resources and Developing a Related Programme of Measures


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After the entry into force of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), during the year 2000, the Member States and the Commission agreed on a Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) to address the challenges in a co-operative and coordinated way. Specific guidance documents were prepared offering a common reference across Europe.

Compilation was carried out under four Working Groups: Ecological Status, Integrated River Basin Management, Groundwater and Reporting. A key element of the implementation strategy has been to include an approach for testing and validatingthose guidance documents. This was done through involvement of river basin as pilots to test the guidance proposals under real conditions to contribute to the implementation and to lead to development of River Basin Management Plans in the long-term. Specific work plans were set up and considerable results and experience have been elaborated during the 2000-2004 period. At the end of Phase I of the PRB exercise, the selected Pilot River Basins (PRB) across Europe successfully formulated their experiences, as related to Article 5, and recommendations on delivering the ambitious requirements of the WFD in practice. The reporting on this phase is available at JRC (1).

During December 2004, at their meeting, the Water Directors decided on a new phase for 2005-2006 to move the joint activities ahead to the next stage of the implementation of the WFD. The four Working Groups (Ecological Status, Integrated River Basin Management, Groundwater and Reporting) would continue to address the key issues for implementation. During Phase I, as the PRB exercise anticipated delivery of Article 5 reports for some key basins, it had become clear, however, that, despite geographical distribution, there are recurrent topics to be addressed in the WFD implementation. The messages are that the two most important pressures against achievement of the WFD objectives come from agriculture (e.g. diffuse emissions) and impacts due to hydromorphological changes, i.e. past alterations due to major water uses such as navigation, hydropower and flood control. Therefore, the Water Directors created two new groups on “WFD and Agriculture” and “GIS”. 2

It was decided that the ‘Strategic Steering Group on Agriculture and WFD’ had to be established as a stand alone group on the same level as the Strategic Co-ordination Group which directly reports to the Water Directors and, if requested, to the Rural Directors. WFD CIS Working Structure shown in figure 1. Moreover, the pilot river basin exercise had to continue to be an inspiring exercise and “symbol” of the Common Implementation Strategy. The integration of pilot basins in all working groups and all activities under the CIS was to continue to create a closer link to the practical implementation work.

The link of agriculture and WFD was identified as one of the highest priorities in this work programme. It was considered important to discuss on how the Common Agricultural Policy can contribute to the achievements of the WFD objectives and provide guidance on how the authorities working on the WFD and the CAP can cooperate more closely. In addition, recommendations should be made on how work with the farming
community can achieve these results in a co-operative manner.

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