Introduction to the Water Framework Directive

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) came into force in December 2000 and became part of UK law in December 2003. It provides an opportunity to plan and deliver a better water environment, focussing on ecology.

It provides an opportunity to plan and deliver a better water environment through river basin management planning.

More details on river basin management and how the WFD will be implemented can be found here:  

The WFD will help protect and enhance the quality of surface freshwater (including lakes, streams and rivers), groundwaters, groundwater dependant ecosystems, estuaries and coastal waters out to one mile from low-water.

The Environment Agency is the lead authority in England for:

  • improvements on inland and coastal waters through better land management
  • protecting inland and coastal waters from diffuse pollution in urban and rural areas
  • driving wiser, sustainable use of water as a natural resource
  • creating better habitat for wildlife that lives in and around water
  • creating a better quality of life for everyone

The Environment Agency will work towards these goals by:

  • making sure the regulations and policies from the WFD get the best results for the environment without too much paperwork
  • carrying them out based on data, evidence and local knowledge
  • working with others

More information about the Water Framework Directive

Living Waters

The ‘Living Waters for England and Wales’ presentation explains the pressures on the water environment and sets out what is currently being done, and what you can do to contribute to the future health of our waters: