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Reports and statements Environment

Proposal for a Directive on the Protection of Groundwater Against Pollution

Abstract:

Briefing on the European Commission Proposal for a Directive on the protection of groundwater against pollution COM (2003) 550.

SUMMARY

This proposal is for a Daughter Directive to the Water Framework Directive to establish criteria for the assessment of good chemical status and for determining trends in groundwater throughout member states. The proposal has been widely welcomed by our reviewers as a timely and necessary adjunct to the Water Framework Directive. Our reviewers have, however, expressed severe reservations about the scope of the Directive and about specific elements that combine to reduce its effectiveness. In particular, they have major concerns that the proposed Directive treats groundwater only in terms of its chemical quality and fails to recognise the importance of groundwater bodies as ecosystems. This matters as the ecological aspects of groundwater – for example, the activities of micro-organisms – are important both for the functioning of groundwater bodies and for monitoring.

Our reviewers consider the treatment of the European groundwater systems to be too generalised and over-simplified. They point out that the complexities in groundwater systems are crucial to an understanding of their quality and of the measures that will be needed to ensure that they continue to function effectively in future. Reviewers are agreed that more consideration should to be given to the provisions for monitoring. In particular they have concerns about frequency and duration and about the indicators of quality that have been chosen.In summary, our reviewers see this proposal as a good start on an important problem, but they consider that there is much to do if the measure is to deliver as legislators might expect.

 

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