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What is the Water Framework Directive

What is the Water Framework Directive (Water Policy Framework Regulations)?

The EU Water Framework Directive is considered to be one of the most important pieces of legislation about water produced by the European Commission in the past 20 years. Introduced in 2001 it is aimed to be the main driver for the sustainable management of water in the EU and its member states in the years to come.

Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such. Thus the purpose of the WFD is to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater. It would thus lead to the prevention of further deterioration as well as to protect and enhance the status of aquatic ecosystems. It requires that all inland and coastal waters reach at least good status by 2015. Good water quality will contribute to securing the drinking water supply for the population.

The WFD promotes sustainable water use based on a long-term protection of available water resources and aims at enhanced protection and improvement of the aquatic environment, through specific measures for the progressive reduction and phasing out of discharges, emissions and losses of priority hazardous substances.

One of its aims is to lead to a progressive reduction of pollution of groundwater and to contribute to mitigating the effects of floods and droughts.
This should lead to

  • the provision of a sufficient supply of good quality surface water and groundwater as needed for sustainable,
  • balanced and equitable water use,
  • a significant reduction in pollution of groundwater and
  • the protection of territorial and marine waters.

To reach its ambitious objective, the WFD is based on a plan called the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) or in the Maltese context better known as the Water Catchment Management Plan together with a Programme of Measures (PoM).

These web pages are aimed at providing information to interested parties as well as present documentation related to WFD-related studies.  A draft Water Catchment Management Plan shall also be included.

Due to its size Malta has one Water Catchment Plan, covering the whole of its territory and the different water bodies.

What is a Water Catchment District?

A water catchment district is an area of land where water from rain drains into a body of water such as groundwater, inland surface water and coastal waters. The protection and improvement of water uality in the Maltese Islands will in the future be co-ordinated on the basis of the areas established for the purposes of the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). Through sub regulation 3 (1) of LN 194/2004 the whole of Malta has been designated as one water catchment district.


 What is a Water Catchment Management Plan?

The WFD requires the establishment of a Management Plan for each Water Catchment District. The plan, must give details of all the water bodies in the area, the environmental objectives established for those water bodies and the measures that will be adopted to achieve them. The Programme of Measures spells out the steps that will be taken to implement that plan.

Timetable for Implementation of the Directive

The Water Framework Directive defines a schedule for the transposition of the Directive into the laws of each Member State, as well as the implementation of the various requirements.

Malta had to adapt to this deadline. The following table indicates how this adaptation will be conducted

 Table 1

 Table 2

 Table 3

 Table 2

 Table 2

 Table 2