Water Framework Directive
European-wide legislative framework seeking more integrated, rationalized, and sustainable management of water in the twenty-first century
Context and background
Water management is one of the oldest and most established areas of environmental policy in the European Union (EU). Starting in the 1970s, EU water policy evolved from an initial concern for the protection of human health via common drinking water standards. In the late 1980s, the focus moved toward the aquatic environment itself and the use of emission limit values (ELVs). Finally, from the mid-1990s onward, policy was reoriented toward the development of a more holistic and strategic approach that recognizes the interconnections between surface and ground water, water quantity and quality, and the impacts of land-based activities on the water environment (McCormick, 2001).
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the centerpiece of the EU’s integrated approach to water protection and management. It is expected to...
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