- 3.3.2 protected areas
Protected areas are identified under various pieces of legislation such as inter alia Natura 2000 sites designated under the Habitat Directive - (92/43/EC). Under the Water Framework Directive, all the protected areas must be considered for an integrated river basin management. Specific objectives were defined and various provisions specify more specific requirements for protected areas (e.g. monitoring). In consequence, there are additional objectives to be considered for water bodies which are also fully part of a protected area. Hence, the existing boundaries of protected areas may be considered for the identification of water bodies under the Water Framework Directive.
|The boundaries of water bodies and protected areas will, in most cases, not coincide because both geographical areas are being defined for different purposes on the basis of different criteria. In case a water body would not fully be inside or outside a protected area, it may be considered to sub-divide the water bodies into two parts so that the boundaries coincide.|
Suggested process for the practical application of the term surface water body. The principles described above for the identification of surface water bodies can be applied in a hierarchical process (see Figure 7).
Figure 7: Summary of suggested hierarchical approach to the identification of surface water bodies
To ensure that water bodies do not cross the boundaries of surface water categories (Paragraph 3.1.2), the suggested first step in delineating surface water bodies is to identify the boundaries of the surface water categories.
To ensure that water bodies do not cross the boundaries of surface water types (Paragraph
3.1.3), the suggested second step in delineating surface water bodies is to identify the boundaries of the surface water types in each river basin district.
To ensure that water bodies represent discrete and significant elements of surface waters, the suggested third step in delineating them is to identify boundaries using distinct physical features (Paragraph 3.1.4) that are (a) likely to be significant in the context of aquatic ecosystem characteristics, and (b) are consistent with the examples of discrete and significant elements of surface water given in the Directives definition (see Section 5.1).
In order to ensure that water bodies are identified in a meaningful way, the suggested fourth step in identifying surface water bodies is to identify boundaries on the basis of other relevant criteria (cf. Section 3.3). This approach is also necessary for the identification of heavily modified water bodies (see Section 3.1.5). Initially, in the case of absence of information on status, the pressure and impact assessment procedure required under Article 5 will provide estimates of status changes (refer to WFD CIS Guidance Document No.3). The monitoring programmes will provide the information necessary to confirm status-based boundaries. Hence, an iterative approach for identifying water bodies should be applied. At the same time, it is evident that the delineation of water bodies must be finally agreed at a certain point in time in order to enable the preparation of the river basin management plan. The competent authorities of a river basin district will have to ensure that a balance between an iterative identification and the final assignment of water bodies is achieved.
Small elements of surface water The purpose of the Directive is to establish a framework for the protection of all waters including inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater. Member States must ensure that the implementation of the Directives provisions achieves this purpose. However, surface waters include a large number of very small waters for which the administrative burden for the management of these waters may be enormous.
The Directive does not include a threshold for very small 'water bodies'. However, the Directive sets out two systems for differentiating water bodies into types, System A and System B. Only the System A typology specifies values for size descriptors for rivers and lakes. The smallest size range for a System A river type is 10
100 km2 catchment area. The smallest size range for a System A lake type is 0.5
1 km2 surface area. No sizes for small transitional and coastal waters are given. The application of system B must achieve, at least, the same level of differentiation as system A. It is therefore recommended to use the size of small rivers and lakes according to system A. However, it is recognised that in some regions where there are many small water bodies, this general approach will need to be adapted. Having said that, it may be appropriate to aggregate water bodies into groups for certain purposes as outlined in Chapter 5 in order to avoid unnecessary administrative burden.
However, there are still large numbers of discrete rivers and lakes that are smaller than these thresholds. A possible approach for the protection of these waters is outlined below.
|Member States have flexibility to decide whether the purposes of the Directive, which apply to all surface waters, can be achieved without the identification of every minor but discrete and significant element of surface water as a water body.|
A suggested approach (see Figure 8) is to:
- include small elements of surface water as part of a contiguous larger water body of the same surface water category and of the same type, where possible;
- where this is not possible, screen small elements of surface water for identification as water bodies according to their significance in the context of the Directives purposes and provisions (e.g. ecological importance; importance to the objectives of a Protected Area, significant adverse impacts on other surface waters in the river basin district). In such a case, small elements; (1) belonging to the same category and type, (2) influenced by the same pressure category and level and (3) having an influence on another well-delimited water body, may be grouped for assessment and reporting purposes;
- for those small elements of surface water not identified as surface water bodies, protect, and where necessary improve them to the extent needed to achieve the Directives objectives for water bodies to which they are directly or indirectly connected (i.e. apply the necessary basic control measures under Article 11).
Figure 8: A suggested approach to ensuring appropriate protection of smallest surface waters
Components of a 'surface water body' and wetlands.
|A 'surface water body' comprises the quality elements described in the Directive for the classification of ecological status.|
In concrete terms this means that, e.g., a river water body comprises:
(a) the hydromorphological quality elements, which include the water flow, the bed of the channel, that part of the land adjacent to the channel thats structure and condition is directly relevant to the achievement of the values for the biological quality elements (i.e. the riparian zone); and
(b) the relevant biological elements.
In relation to wetlands, this means that those wetlands must be associated with a 'water body', which are directly influencing the status of the related 'water body'. The boundaries of such wetlands must be identified in a pragmatic way in order to meet the requirement of a 'discrete and significant' element.
The question of wetlands in the context of the Water Framework Directive will be subject to a separate Guidance Documents (currently in preparation) under the umbrella of the Common Implementation Strategy. It is recommended that this Guidance on wetlands, which will emerge in the first half of 2003, should develop the understanding of wetlands as a component of a surface water in more detail.
On land›01 - Iberic-Macaronesian region
On land›02 - Pyrenees
On land›03 - Italy, Corsica and Malta
On land›04 - Alps
On land›05 - Dinaric western Balkan
On land›06 - Hellenic western Balkan
On land›07 - Eastern Balkan
On land›08 - Western highlands
On land›09 - Central highlands
On land›10 - The Carpathians
On land›11 - Hungarian lowlands
On land›12 - Pontic province
On land›13 - Western plains
On land›14 - Central plains
On land›15 - Baltic province
On land›16 - Eastern plains
On land›17 - Ireland and Northern Ireland
On land›18 - Great Britain
On land›19 - Iceland
On land›20 - Borealic uplands
On land›21 - Tundra
On land›22 - Fenno-Scandian shield
On land›23 - Taiga
On land›24 - The Caucasus
On land›25 - Caspic depression