Evaluating water management processes in Germany: conceptual approach and practical applications

  • Sabrina KirschkeEmail author
  • Jeanette Völker
  • Sandra Richter
Thematic Issue
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Water in Germany


Management processes play an important role in helping to achieve the European Water Framework Directive (WFD)’s water quality goals. As a result, researchers have suggested numerous indicators to evaluate the relevant management processes, including indicators that are both generally applicable and highly context-specific. However, these indicators have not until now been summarized and systematized within one comprehensive framework. Consequently, researchers have experienced difficulties in evaluating the relative influence of different indicators on the WFD implementation process. This paper aims to contribute to combatting this problem by developing and applying an open framework of management indicators to evaluate the WFD’s management processes in Germany. On a conceptual level, this paper develops the basic design principles of the framework and collects around 40 management indicators in a structured way, based on an analysis of the literature related to water management. On an empirical level, this paper provides guidelines on, and specific examples of the ways in which this framework can be applied in practice, based on reports on the implementation process and data from the German reporting system WasserBLIcK. Results show that the framework is useful for systematically analysing the implementation processes of the WFD in Germany. To increase the value of the framework, the authors invite further research to facilitate the framework’s continual update and its application in the ongoing implementation processes of the WFD in Germany.


European Water Framework Directive IWRM Water governance Implementation research Complexity 



This study was funded by the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt). Grant Number: 371124219.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12665_2016_5900_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (203 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 202 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabrina Kirschke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeanette Völker
    • 1
  • Sandra Richter
    • 2
  1. 1.Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchMagdeburgGermany
  2. 2.SYDRO Consult GmbHKasselGermany

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