Publications on River Restoration in Europe

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European waters Assessment of status and pressures 2018

The main aim of EU water policy is to ensure that a sufficient quantity of good-quality water is available for both people's needs and the environment. The Water Framework Directive (WFD), which came into force in 2000, established a framework for the assessment, management, protection and improvement of the quality of water resources across the EU. Since December 2015, EU Member States have been publishing the second river basin management plans (RBMPs) for achieving the environmental objectives of the WFD. These plans are updates of the first RBMPs, which were published in 2009. By spring 2018, 25 Member States had reported to the Water Information System for Europe (WISE).

In 2018, the European Commission will publish its report on the assessment of the second RMBP's and will start the process of evaluating WFd (EC, 2017a). To accompany and inform the this process, the EEA has produced this report on the state of Europe's water. In addition, the Water Information System for Europe (WISE) Freshwater visualiation tool presents more, and more detailed, results.

Download Europen waters: European waters assessment  202018.pdf


Key messages

• Of the different water bodies recognised by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) across Europe, groundwaters generally have the best status. Good chemical status has been achieved for 74 % of the groundwater area, while 89 % of the area achieved good quantitative status.

• Around 40 % of surface waters (rivers, lakes and transitional and coastal waters) are in good ecological status or potential, and only 38 % are in good chemical status.

• In most Member States, a few priority substances account for poor chemical status, the most common being mercury. If mercury and other ubiquitous priority substances were omitted, only 3 % of surface water bodies would fail to achieve good chemical status. Improvements for individual substances show that Member States are making progress in tackling the sources of contamination.

• Overall, the second RBMPs show limited change in status, as most water bodies have the same status in both cycles. The proportion of water bodies with unknown status has decreased and confidence in status assessment has grown. Improvements are usually visible at the level of individual quality elements or pollutants but often do not translate into improved status overall.

• The main significant pressures on surface water bodies are hydromorphological pressures (40 %), diffuse sources (38 %), particularly from agriculture, and atmospheric deposition (38 %), particularly of mercury, followed by point sources (18 %) and water abstraction (7 %). • Member States have made marked efforts to improve water quality or reduce pressure on hydromorphology. Some of the measures have had an immediate effect; others will result in improvements in the longer term.

• It can be expected that, by the time the third RBMPs are drafted (2019-2021), some of the several thousand individual measures undertaken in the first and second RBMPs should have had a positive effect in terms of achieving good status.

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