The Water Frame Work Directive


The purpose of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) is to establish a framework for the preservation and, where necessary, the improvement of water quality of inland surface waters, transitional and coastal waters and groundwater. The prime and overriding objective of the Water Framework Directive is for all surface waters, artificial and heavily modified waters and groundwaters to achieve good water status by 2015.  The WFD has been transposed into Irish Law by National Regulation S.I. 722 of 2003.

The Directive contains a very large number of tasks in a variety of areas, including scientific/technical, information management, economic and administrative, which must be addressed by each Member State. The following is a brief summary of the overall implementation schedule of the WFD:

Year              Requirements                                                                                 

Directive Adopted


Transpose into National law
Identify River Basin Districts and Competent Authorities
Identify draft register of intercalibration sites


Characterisation of water bodies, including Heavily Modified water bodies
Review pressures and impacts and identify sites at risk of not meeting the environmental objective of ‘good status’
Establish register of Protected Areas
Undertake economic analysis of water use
Final register of intercalibration sites

 2006  Comprehensive monitoring programmes operational
 2007  Repeal some Directives
 2008  Publish Draft River Basin Management Plans which will include a first draft of the classification of water bodies

River Basin Management Plans produced to include final classification of the ecological status of water bodies
Programme of measures for each RBD

 2010  Water pricing policies contribute to environmental objectives
 2013  Repeal some Directives
 2015  “Good” Status to be achieved


Marine Institute and the Water Framework Directive

The Marine Institute has been intimately involved with the implementation of the Water framework Directive in Ireland, particularly as it pertains to Coastal and transitional waters. To date, Marine Institute staff have served on numerous national WFD administrative groups such as National Co-ordination groups and Steering groups for several of the River Basin Districts (RBD’s).  In addition, Marine Institute staff have (at the invitation of EPA & DEHLG) also served on national and international technical groups whose primary role is to develop the classification tools and systems by which ecological quality can be measured.  To this end, staff from the Marine Institute and EPA, have developed Ecological Quality Elements for the marine environment (coastal and transitional waters), a key WFD task. The Marine Institute and the EPA have initiated joint programme on advanced technologies for water quality monitoring to the tune of €2.7 million, of which the Marine Institute is contributing  €1.8 million with the EPA contributing €0.9 million.
Based on the Marine Institute involvement in the development of the classification tools as well as through the EPA - funded METRIC project responsible for intercalibration of the phytoplankton and other plants elements of the WFD, the Marine Institute has developed wide-ranging experience with the intricacies of the various tools that are recommended for WFD transitional and coastal water monitoring and assessment.