Politics & Laws
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Water Framework Directive: Implementation Update

The development of a National Water Resource Management Plan (NGP) forms the key element in the process of adopting the provisions of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) into national law.

The NGP completes the first part of a longer planning process, comprising the status analysis drawn up in 2005, a summary of monitoring results and a related catalogue of measures based on which the relevant environmental targets shall be accomplished.

The catalogue of measures is the heart of the NGP. It contains measures through which the good status or good potential of a water body shall be achieved (restoration measures) as well as measures helping to avoid a deterioration of the current condition (maintenance measures). Also preventive measures are contained. A first draft of the NGP will be presented in April 2009.

The public is then granted a period of six months to comment on the draft. The first definite NGP must be published by 22 December 2009 at the latest. Until the end of 2012, a number of implementing steps are to follow, such as regional or restoration programmes which governors may introduce by way of decree, or federal ordinances amended by the federal minister.

The status analysis of 2005 reveals that particle loads are no longer an issue in Austrian watercourses. However, flow conditions and water structure are inadequate in a substantial part of these streams and rivers. This is why future water management activities will need to focus on preserving and restoring the water bodies as a living environment.

The objective of a good status or good potential can in most cases only be achieved on a step-by-step basis and by making use of the transitional provisions envisaged in the WFD until 2021 or 2027. In a planning process agreed upon by the federal and regional authorities it was decided that the first NGP shall focus on hydromorphological restoration measures to be adopted in the larger watercourses.

Included are those confluence areas of tributaries which are home to the typical native fish species that migrate over medium ranges – such as nase, barb and huchen. In keeping with the eco-funding law in its amended version, 140 million € in funds have already been made available for measures improving the ecological status of water bodies.

Groundwater-related activities will mostly center on the eastern part of Austria, where nitrate intake from agriculture and farming needs to be further reduced at regional level. Priority will be given to those groundwater bodies that are of special relevance for drinking water supply.
(Source: aqua press Int. 1/2009, DI Dr. Robert Fenz (BMLFUW)

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