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Balancing objectives for Europe’s waters

The European Commission is to start a review of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). It is looking increasingly uncertain that any member state will be able to achieve good status in all water bodies by the 2015 deadline and significant use of exemptions and changes to other measures are required.

While protecting vulnerable ecosystems is vitally important, a balance needs to be struck between environmental costs and extra charges to water customers, particularly when measures proposed to protect the environment are not backed by comprehensive data.

We are concerned that a forthcoming review of the WFD may be taken as an opportunity to seek ever tighter restrictions on water quality, without supporting evidence of the economic and social consequences of such decisions.

Through the recent price review process in England and Wales, water companies have very detailed information about customers’ priorities for the environment and, crucially, how much they are willing to pay.

Water UK will continue to engage with European policymakers on this issue.