Under the Surface: A Deep Dive Into EU Water Pollution Monitoring and Management Practices

Despite some improvements, water pollution remains a key environmental and sanitary challenge across the EU. More than twenty years after the adoption of the Water Framework Directive, less than 40% of Europe’s rivers, lakes, and coastal and transitional waters and around 70% of groundwater bodies hold good chemical status. Yet, that does not give the full picture of the state of our waters as chemical status is only assessed against a small subset of substances and largely does not take into account the effects of chemical mixtures.

On 26 October 2022, the European Commission presented its proposal for a Directive amending the Water Framework Directive (WFD 2000/60/EC), the Groundwater Directive (GWD 2006/118/EC) and the Environmental Quality Standards Directive (EQSD 2008/105/EC). This proposal updates the lists of priority substances for surface and groundwater and their associated legal threshold values.

On 24 May, we gathered in the European Parliament to discuss solutions to one of the pressing issues of our time: water pollution. In the context of the European Commission’s proposal, the messages from participating speakers were clear: we need action now. Below are outlined the key takeaways from each of the talks. This event was organized by PAN Europe, the EEB and Surfrider Foundation and was moderated by Sara Johansson from the EEB.

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Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.