EUROPEAN RIVERS BEING SOLD DOWNSTREAM

Documents publicats per l’European Environmental Bureau (EEB) en motiu del DMA 2012.

To mark World Water Day – 22 March 2012, the EEB has published a review of European water protection. Looking at ten of the biggest rivers in the EU, the EEB concludes that rivers still suffer under multiple pressures around Europe with little chance of achieving good water status in the foreseeable future. Looking forward, the EEB is also today releasing its position on the EC Policy Options for the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s waters [2].

The Water Framework Directive has set Europe on track towards managing rivers, lakes, coastal waters and groundwater more sustainably. Thanks to the WFD, rivers are becoming cleaner and the restoration of floodplains and wetlands has made some progress. However the report finds that the most important challenges remain the same as ten years ago.

Jeremy Wates outlined a fundamental problem with the WFD implementation ‘Although the Water Framework Directive has great potential for water protection, the implementation of the Directive is fundamentally undermined by the wide-spread use of exemptions and the fact that Member States are allowed to postpone measures until 2027. At this rate young Europeans will see their hairs turning grey before the WFD delivers on its promise.’

The controversial construction of dams for hydroelectricity generation causes major alterations to river ecology and although the removal or refurbishment of old dams is underway, it is progressing too slowly and a new wave of dam development threatens the remaining few untouched river stretches. These are already under pressure, and some nearing ecosystem tipping point, as a consequence of the increasing effects of climate change.

Alteration of rivers to enable shipping also continuous, despite grave concerns about the “cleanliess” of this mode of transport. Jeremy Wates EEB Secretary General commented on the Danube case study – ‘If planned investments to enable shipping go ahead, the Danube is going to resemble a motorway more than a river.’ He concluded: ‘The European Commission needs to use all of its powers of enforcement to ensure full compliance from Member States with the WFD, and as soon as possible, before our rivers are ruined beyond repair’.

The WFD has thus far been unsuccessful in tackling water pollution by nutrients and chemicals and the over-abstraction of surface water and groundwater by agriculture. This affects wildlife and human drinking water quality, and causes increases to consumers’ water bills. “Europeans are paying twice: once when subsidising polluting agricultural practices through the CAP and the second time through their water bills for removing the pollutants from drinking water. This malpractice has to stop.” said Sarolta Tripolszky, EEB Water policy officer.

Notes to editors:

[1] EEB publication 10 Rivers: A review of Europe’s New Water Protection is being released on 22 March 2012.

[2] The European Commission’s Consultation on Policy Options for the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s waters The EEB will be releasing its response to this consultation on 22 March 2012 on http://www.eeb.org

Contact

Alison Abrahams – Communications Officer +32 (0) 2289 13 09 alison.abrahams@eeb.org

Sarolta Tripolszky – Biodoversity, Water and Soil Policy Officer +32 (0) 2289 10 93 sarolta.tripolszky@eeb.org

EEB Position on the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water
Ten Rivers : A review of Europe’s New Water Protection

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