- On 6th February 2020
- In Ecology, Sediment Management, Water Management
- By Jack
Water is essential for life. Whether it is for drinking, cleaning or sustaining the ecosystems which we live in, water is arguably one of the most important resources to us. However, since the industrial revolution, our rivers, lakes, reservoirs and boreholes have seen a major change from their natural state or water quality.
Environmental issues such as eutrophication (too many nutrients in the water), pollution with heavy metals and diminishing levels of ecological diversity are becoming more commonplace within many of the UK’s rivers and lakes due to mismanagement of our water ecosystems and previously unregulated pollution from agriculture and industrial activity.
What is a Water Framework Directive (WFD) Assessment?
In order to improve the conditions of our ground & surface water and mitigate these rising concerns, European Union (EU) legislation was put in place in 2000 with the goal of protecting and enhancing the quality of water environments across all EU member states. This is known as the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and was transposed into UK law in 2003.
The WFD sets out a plan to enhance the status (condition) and prevent any deterioration of water bodies and their ecosystems, reduce the pollution of these water bodies and to promote sustainable water use across all areas. This is achieved by regularly measuring the quality of a water body every year and determining which areas need improvement.
The WFD aims to achieve a good or better rating for all surface water bodies, and for a good chemical status for all groundwater bodies by the year 2027. Should a water body be artificial or modified (for example in canals), the degree of ecological potential must be good or better in order to promote biodiversity in these areas.
Exo has been working on WFD assessments for the last 5 years and combined with our other services, we are very well placed to assess potential impacts (positive or negative) of projects that are required to have a WFD assessment.
When looking at water bodies in England and Wales, we measure the quality of a water body with two main parameters, its ecological status (or potential) and its chemical status. These two parameters contain many “quality elements” which are measured with a rating from high to bad (good / fail for chemical status), where the overall parameter status is given by the worst-case classification from these elements. A high rating indicates a water body has minimal or no human interference, whereas a bad rating means a body has been severely modified and polluted and thus in need of drastic intervention either from the state or local organisations.
By improving the condition of our waters through reduced pollution and regulation, we can sustain and safeguard the quality of our rivers and water courses, not just for us, but for other ecological communities that rely on these areas as much as we do.
In all our projects, we focus on promoting management measures to positively impact on the waterbody status. This is mostly by using nature-based solutions and identifying where benefits for both people and the environment can be made. If you’d like to find out more about our services, please contact us and we will be delighted to answer all your queries.