Water Framework Directive
The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) came into force in December 2000 and became part of UK law in December 2003. The WFD provides an opportunity to plan and deliver a better water environment, which for the first time also focuses on ecology. The Environment Agency is the competent authority for the WFD.
The WFD introduced a formal series of six year river basin management plans (RBMP) cycles. RBMPs identify the objectives required to deliver the WFD. The first RBMP cycle will end in 2015 and the RBMP will then be updated and re-issued.
The WFD has a primary focus of improving the ecological health of water bodies, this is assessed by measurement of their ecological status. At Good Ecological Status (GES), a waterbody has the healthy balance of fish, aquatic plants, diatoms and macro invertebrates.
However, these plants and animals require the correct water quality, water volume and flow conditions in order to survive. To achieve good ecological status it is often the case that the chemical, hydrological and morphological conditions need to be good for the biology to respond. The hierarchy of class for surface waters is summarised on the right.
The catchment assessment table summarises the main ways a typical catchment is assessed under European directives.