The Water Framework Directive (WFD) introduced a universal approach to
the management of water quality across Europe in the year 2000.

The Directive requires the protection and improvement of all components of the water environment including rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater. It places a responsibility on the UK and other European countries to ensure that all inland and coastal waters reach “good status” by 2027.

The chemical, physical and biological quality of each waterbody is routinely assessed and a status assigned every three years. Water bodies are classified as either Bad, Poor, Moderate, Good or High status. Those with less than Good status are investigated and efforts made to address the issues affecting them.

Good status will ensure that the vital services provided to people and wildlife by a healthy water environment are protected now and into the future.

The Catchment Based approach and Catchment Partnerships were set up to support the delivery of the WFD. Their success in bringing a range of partners together to support catchment management and the sharing of knowledge and expertise to deliver cross-cutting environmental improvements has extended its involvement and influence far beyond the WFD.

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