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SGU and the EC’s Water Framework Directive

An overall EC directive on water was adopted in December 2000, one of the most wide-ranging directives to date. It establishes a framework for a common European strategy to maintain or improve the quality of surface waters, groundwaters and coastal waters in Europe.

The goal of the Water Framework Directive is that all bodies of water should have achieved ‘good status’ by 2015. When it is fully implemented, no water body that is not specifically exempted under the Directive will be allowed to deteriorate in terms of quality, quantity or ecological status. Measures must be adopted to protect waters that are in danger of becoming or already are polluted.

Radical overhaul of water management in Sweden

Under the Directive, bodies of water are to be managed in the framework of districts based on river basins. Since 2004, Sweden has been divided into five water districts, with one county administrative board in each appointed as the water authority for the district.
The Directive has been partly transposed into Swedish legislation, primarily through the Environmental Code. Since the Directive sometimes states only in fairly broad terms what action has to be taken, there is a need for more detailed guidance on how it is to be implemented in Sweden. SGU, together with the Environmental Protection Agency, will therefore be drawing up more detailed regulations, based on the Ordinance on Management of the Quality of the Aquatic Environment, which was passed in June 2004.

Framework Directive – a tool to achieve environmental objectives

The Swedish Parliament has set 16 national environmental objectives, which represent a vision of the kind of environment we want to achieve and the direction we need to work in to bring it about. The Water Framework Directive is the most powerful tool for attaining the objectives relating to water.

SGU’s role

As the expert agency on groundwater in Sweden, SGU has been entrusted with drawing up guidelines and regulations for the process of working towards the goals for groundwater. In support of that process we are also providing geological data and information.

What happens next?

The new water authorities' work will focus on obtaining better data on water bodies for which existing data are inadequate, or which are in danger of not achieving good status. SGU has been asked to provide assistance in this area. Continued development of the database on groundwater bodies and water supplies (DGV) and data capture for this purpose will be an important element in our support to the water authorities.
At the EU level, criteria for assessing groundwater status have been laid down in a ‘daughter directive’ to the Framework Directive. SGU has been participating in the work of a European Commission expert group in negotiating the new directive, and in a working group concerned with uniform interpretation of the directive across the EU. The provisions of the daughter directive also form a basis for both the revision of the environmental quality criteria for groundwater and the proposals for a revised environmental monitoring programme which SGU is working on.

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