How can research projects contribute to solve water challenges - the case of the Water Framework Directive (WFD)?

How can research projects contribute to solve water challenges - the case of the Water Framework Directive (WFD)?

In spring 2015, the European Commission presented a Communication (COM/2015/0120 final) and a number of reports on the implementation of the Water Framework and Floods Directives, and these were subject to further discussion and outlooks at the 4th EU Water Conference. The Communication explicitly refers to “…Member States should use the innovations developed under the European innovation partnerships on water and on agricultural productivity and sustainability, and connect them to the challenges of implementing the WFD…”

Some of these topics were already under discussion when at the EIP Water 2014 Conference, the Water Directors of ES, NL, SI and UK explained some of the remaining implementation challenges, and EIP Water Action Groups and other conference participants proposed innovative solutions for these problems.

This compilation aims to provide an updated and more comprehensive view, organised under 15 challenges identified by the above-mentioned Communication. It includes references to the EIP Water Action Group deliverables, and recently finished and ongoing EU and National research and innovation projects, under FP7 and H2020, as collected by the EIP Water Marketplace. This catalogue shall stimulate the uptake of such solutions within the water management by Member States, regions, municipalities and other water managers, with a view to the 2nd WFD implementation cycle.

As it is a living document, we much appreciate your reviews and additions (in similar formats). Please approach us at contact@eip-water.eu sending us revised or new text entries indicating the matrix cell (red numbers) so facilitating the management of this document. 

Item

Challenge

Solutions provided by EIP Water (and Agricultural productivity and sustainability)

Solutions provided by other innovation-oriented initiatives (studies, LIFE, FP7 or H2020 projects)

Assessment of Pressures and Impacts

Step up efforts to base Programmes of Measures on a sound assessment of pressures and impacts on the aquatic ecosystem

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BlueSCities assesses the current situation in 50 European cities for a baseline for water and waste management (2018).

KINDRA develops a Hydrogeological Research Classification System (HRC-SYS) (2018).

FREEWAT will be an open source and public domain GIS integrated modelling environment for the simulation of water quantity and quality in surface water and groundwater with an integrated water management and planning module (2018).

MARS: A Europe-wide map of multiple stressors is currently being prepared, based on WISE data and many other data.

MEDACC: assessing river basin vulnerabilities to water change

BeWater: Identifying though participatory processes social drivers of pressures and social vulnerabilities to impacts

Monitoring

Monitoring should be maintained and/or improved. In particular, the monitoring of water status should be improved for surface water, especially as concerns priority substances.

Member States should develop monitoring methods to identify situations where hydrological alterations are likely to prevent the achievement of good ecological status.

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RTWQM develops strengthened interaction between “sensor technologies” and “data analyses & monitoring tools” to safeguard or improve water quality aspects in water supply, water re-use and wastewater, herewith indirectly supporting surface water quality. (2016)

AugMent develops final stage innovation of cheaper and more accurate static and mobile sensor devices in a dense network to monitor water quality and quantity. It aims to integrate multiple platforms (sensors and current satellite data products on the terrestrial water cycle) and to develop methods dynamic and heterogeneous sourced models to support current the water management paradigm shift from water supply to water demand. (2017)

In the same line, Ctrl+Swan contributes to the transformation of water distribution systems into smart water networks by developing innovative sensor systems, network partitioning techniques and multiple-sourced data platforms for water quality control systems. (2016)

Photocatalysis aims to develop photocatalysis technology for the removal of pollutants and disinfection to re-use treated water for urban, industrial and/or agricultural purposes.

EBCF works on the improvement of water- and sanitation services through benchmarking in Western and Eastern Europe. EBCF will covers the total water cycle, with extensively benchmarking analyses of the performance of utilities. (2015 and ongoing)

All of the above five Action Groups are indirectly linked to surface water through monitoring methods and tools in water supply, water re-use, and wastewater.

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SWOS develops a monitoring and information service focussing on wetland ecosystems

MARS: In 16 European catchments the environmental variables determining ecological status are currently being modelled. In addition, there is a dedicated task on eflows

GLOBAQUA project: focussing on priority substances.

INTCATCH develops and applies novel, integrated tools for monitoring and managing catchments

GISBLOOM develops participatory monitoring, forecasting, control and socio-economic impacts of eutrophication and algal blooms in river basins districts

 

Status assessment

The remaining shortcomings in the methods to assess the ecological status of water should be urgently addressed in several Member States. The development of methods sensitive to hydrological and physical alterations of water bodies is particularly important.

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RiverRes can provide feedback to improve the sensitive assessment of hydromorphological pressures that jeopardize the achievement of good ecological status (2017)

ESE will develop a consensual and agreed methodology to assess the tangible and intangible benefits from natural and constructed ecosystems in environment and monetary terms. A report on the current IT tools and methodologies for ES valuation is already available.

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MARS: see above, this will be the outcome of the modelling task.

LIFE TRIVERS aims to support implementing the Water Framework Directive to temporary rivers by developing tools for the assessment of their ecological status

 

Solid basis for developing Programme of Measures

Design the most appropriate and cost-effective measures to ensure that water bodies achieve ‘good status’, thus tackling the persisting performance gap - it is not clear whether measures are currently taken to progress towards the objective.

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RiverRes produces tools and protocols for the implementation agencies on river restoration as a way to reduce hydro-morphological pressures on rivers and therefore improve their ecological status (2017) , incl. identify and assess cost/benefit and cost/effectiveness and LivingLabs (2018).

NatureWAT delivers a catalogue of nature-based and cost-effective solutions (e.g. artificial wetlands, ponds, sustainable urban drainage systems, combined sewer overflow treatment systems, green roofs, vertical gardens, wetlands for flood defense) to treat urban wastewater and sewer overflows (January 2016).

WaterJustice develops specific management instruments for implementing more equitable, democratic and sustainable water governance programs and mechanism for conflict resolution. (2016)

 

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AQUACROSS develops innovative management tools, concepts, and business models (i.e. indicators, maps, ecosystem assessments, participatory approaches, mechanisms for promoting the delivery of ecosystem services) for aquatic ecosystems at various scales (2018).

ESMERALDA develops methods for developing high quality and consistent information on the condition of ecosystems and their services; and practical guidance, data and tools (2018).

WaterInnEU facilitates access to ICT models, tools, protocols and policy briefs (2018).

FREEWAT will be an open source and public domain GIS integrated modelling environment for the simulation of water quantity and quality in surface water and groundwater with an integrated water management and planning module (2018).

MARS: The effects of measures are currently being modelled in 16 European catchments.

BeWater will produce methodological suggestions on effectiveness of measures  and monitoring of implementation processes

Permitting/ licensing

Existing permits, e.g. for water abstraction (including water rights), discharge, hydropower, etc., should be reviewed and, if necessary, updated with a view to ensure their compatibility with WFD objectives.

After permits are reviewed, Member States must ensure that they are respected. This may include inspections based on a non-compliance risk approach and ensuring adequate enforcement capacity.

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Contributing partly here is WaterJustice that works on solidly grounded and interdisciplinary specific management instruments for implementing more equitable, democratic and sustainable water governance programs and mechanism for conflict resolution. (2016)

 

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Pollution control

Member States should tackle the sources of pollution.

Member States are encouraged to continue extending the establishment of safeguard zones to protect areas used for the abstraction of drinking water, in particular as regards surface waters.

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RTWQM, AugMent, Ctrl+Swan, and Photocatalysis (see description above under "Monitoring") work on enhanced monitoring networking and management techniques in water quality, though only indirectly in surface water (primarily in water supply, water re-use, and wastewater). (2016)

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REGROUND develops the application and near-market replication of a novel water nanogeotechnology for the immobilization of toxic metals in groundwater aquifers, drinking water wells, and river bank filtration sites (2018)

LIFE AMMONIA TRAPPING develops membrane devices to reduce ammonia emissions generated by manure in poultry and pig farms

LIFE DrainRain addresses RunOff Water Purification from Pavements by a Novel Integral System of Pervious Concrete Pavement & Insitu Water Treatment

 

Agricultural diffuse pollution

Diffuse pollution significantly affects 90 % of river basin districts, 50 % of surface water bodies and 33 % of groundwater bodies across the EU.

There is need for further action to reduce and prevent nitrates pollution. There is lack of measures to control phosphate and nitrates emissions outside nitrate vulnerable zones.

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WIRE provides innovative methods in ‘fertigation’, an approach to reduce nutrient leaching and diffuse pollution caused by irrigated agriculture. Numerous case studies are available.

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MARS: The effects of riparian buffers on ecological status and various nutrient parameters is being modelled in various catchments.

LIFE-GOODSTREAM Good ecological status of an agricultural stream - introducing Integrated Buffer Zones in a holistic approach

EUTROMED develops demonstrative technique to prevent eutrophication by agrarian nitrates in surface waters in the Mediterranean climate

LIFE_IRRILIFE assesses environmentally efficient use of pesticides by localized irrigation systems

LIFE REGENERA LIMIA develops demostrative solutions to reduce the water contamination of agrarian origin in the Limia basin

Urban wastewater

The main challenges are financial and planning aspects; for the EU-15 related to maintaining and renewing sewerage collection and treatment systems, while the EU-13 need to continue their work on setting up the minimum required infrastructure.

Furthermore, sewer overflows remain one of the main pollution sources in urban areas.

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City Blueprint is a management tool for urban water (and waste) and helps administrations to set priorities for planning. It is based on an innovative assessment of all urban water infrastructures and services, their sustainability and aligns indicators with the revised smart city approach and the activities of the European Urban Agenda of the European Commission.

NatureWAT delivers a catalogue of nature-based and cost-effective solutions (e.g. artificial wetlands, ponds, sustainable urban drainage systems, combined sewer overflow treatment systems, green roofs, vertical gardens, wetlands for flood defense) to treat urban wastewater and sewer overflows (January 2016).

Verdygo provides a method for modular construction for new and renewed plants. This method enables step-wise construction, financing of treatment systems, enable earlier adoption of innovative processes and is flexible in complying with variable input and output standards. . First full scale showcases will be available mid 2016. Also mid 2016 results can be presented for modular applications other   than in wastewater treatment, p.e.  waterreuse, nutrient recovery, sludge treatment,…

 

ARREAU provides best practices to minimize treatment costs by creating profits out of recovered raw materials. . This EIP Action intends to develop several demonstration projects. At this moment it is unclear that if and when these will be constructed as it depends on financing.

 

AnMBR develops the anaerobic membrane reactor, a process wherein nutrients in wastewater are removed, but reused in agriculture, which results in a low cost process with income from agriculture. This Action Group is testing small scale pilots in different applications. Some elements of this process are still being developed. Therefore it is unclear when full scale application and results might be disseminated.

 

FinnoWater explores, develops and implements new approaches to increase financial flows in the water sector, particularly by incentivizing public innovation (Pre-Commercial Procurement PCP, and Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions PPI) of new technologies and services as well as other innovative financial tools and mechanisms. The mentioned public procurement methods address the financial and planning challenges, e.g. in urban wastewater. (2015 and ongoing)

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POWERSTEP will demonstrate the

novel concepts and design treatment schemes of wastewater treatment plants that will be net energy producers: enhanced carbon extraction, innovative nitrogen removal processes, power-to-gas with smart grid approach, heat-to-power concepts, and innovative process water treatment (2018)

ECO-UV will demonstrate and characterise an innovative UV lamp and driving electronics technology for chemical-free water treatment and disinfection (2018).

CENTAUR develops a low-cost de-centralised, autonomous real-time-control system for sewer networks with the aim of reducing local flood risk in urban areas (2018).

REMEB implements and validates a low-cost (-50 to -60%) ceramic membrane bioreactor (MBR) for Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP), enabling water reuse (2018).

iMETland aims to construct and validate a full-scale application of a eco-friendly device to treat urban wastewater from small communities at zero-energy operation cost (2018).

BeWater develops proposals of measures to tackle water allocation in over-exploited basins through water uses associations.

SMART-Plant investigates the scale-up of low carbon footprint material recovery techniques in existing wastewater treatment plants

AquaNES demonstrates synergies in combined natural and engineered processes for water treatment systems, including groundwater recharge

INCOVER develops innovative eco-technologies for resource efficiency for wastewater

LIFE Impetus aims for improving current barriers for controlling pharmaceutical compounds in urban wastewater treatment plants

Pollution caused by industrial activities

Emission limit values in industrial emissions permits shall be systematically in line with ‘best available techniques’ and take into account relevant water objectives

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RTWQM, AugMent, Ctrl+Swan, and Photocatalysis (see descriptions above under "Monitoring") work on enhanced monitoring networking and management techniques in water quality, specifically in water supply, water re-use, and wastewater.

InDuRe develops industrial water processes with water reuse and closed loops

MEET-ME4WATER develops microbiological-electrochemical processes for waste water treatment to very low effluent standards. This Action Group has submitted proposals to several financing programs. First application and disseminating results depends much on approval of proposals.

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SALTGAE is a demo project to prove techno-economical feasibility of using algae to treat saline wastewater from the food industry

Hg-rid-LIFE identifies solutions for Mercury Decontamination of Dental Care Facilities

Priority substances

Quantification of diffuse emissions originating from a variety of sources is lacking in many MS.

The number of pollutants identified by Member States as being of national concern also varies significantly.

Consequently, most of the measures in relation to chemical pollution are too general, with unquantified outcomes, rather than substance- or source-specific.

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RTWQM, AugMent, Ctrl+Swan, and Photocatalysis (see descriptions above under "Monitoring") work on enhanced monitoring networking and management techniques in water quality, specifically in water supply, water re-use, and wastewater. Photocatalysis has submitted proposal to several financing programs. First application and disseminating results depends much on approval of proposals.

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LIFE EXTRUCLEAN targets the removal of hazardous substances in polyethylene packages using supercritical carbon dioxide(SC-CO2) in recycling process

Over-abstraction

Excessive abstraction significantly affects 10 % of surface water bodies and 20 % of groundwater bodies.

Not all Member States have addressed (adequately) the water needs of nature in water accounting, nor illegal abstractions.

The measures implemented do not guarantee the achievement of ‘good status’ in many water bodies affected by significant abstractions or flow regulation.

Where abstraction levels are already excessive, Member States should take appropriate measures to restore water use to sustainable levels. This is particularly important for groundwater, especially in cases where it is connected to important water-dependent ecosystems, often protected areas, such as wetlands.

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WIRE includes a number of innovative DSS for irrigation to schedule water supply as well as innovative irrigation technology have been identified and presented. In addition, barriers for their uptake and conditions under which they can be applied have been identified in view of increasing water productivity. Other examples collected concern groundwater recharge and created wetlands that can contribute to reduce negative impacts on groundwater bodies in regions with irrigation.

PVAIZEC: The project develops several water and energy saving irrigation pilots in as demonstration sites. Technology development is almost ready for roll-out before 2017 (accompanying H2020 project MASLOWATEN).

AnMBR develops the anaerobic membrane reactor, a process wherein water is reused in agriculture. Therefore less groundwater is used for agricultural purposes.

SPADIS works on smart water pricing and drought insurance, and as a support tool develops a risk assessment model on probabilities of water supply constraints and drought scenarios which affect the irrigated agricultural sector. (2017)

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MASLOWATEN develops a ready product for irrigation at consuming 100% renewable electricity and 30% less water (2018).

DEMOWARE

SUBSOL promotes subsurface water solutions (SWS) for advanced groundwater management, and maximum control over freshwater resources in coastal areas, energy reduction, food production, and financial savings (2018).

MOSES develops an information platform to facilitate planning of irrigation water resources, with the aim of saving water; improving services to farmers; and reducing monetary and energy costs (2018)

ECWRTI demonstrates efficient low-cost treatment techniques for reuse of wastewater from the Textile Industry (2018).

MARS: There is a dedicated task on eflows, identifying hotspots of water abstraction Europe-wide.

BeWater develops proposals of measures to tackle water allocation in over-exploited basins through water uses associations

LIFE REWAT develops sustainable WATer management in the lower Cornia valley through demand REduction, aquifer REcharge and river Restoration

Investing in Water aims to achieving Reduction in Water Consumption by Business in Malta

Hydromorphology

Measures are often very general, there is no prioritisation and measures bear no clear link with the existing pressures or expected effects.

Moreover, some Member States have not developed water status assessment methods that are sensitive to hydromorphological changes.

Member States should apply ecological flows for both existing and new uses.

Additionally, restoration measures might be required to achieve the WFD objectives.

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RiverRes produces tools and protocols for the implementation agencies on river restoration as a way to reduce hydro-morphological pressures on rivers and therefore improve their ecological status (2017), incl. identify and assess cost/benefit and cost/effectiveness and LivingLabs (2018).

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REFORM has compiled a database of hydromorphological measures and their likely effects (available), and will also transform this into a fact-sheet approach (2015).

MARS: will take this on board and present it on the freshwater information platform.

LIFE+ Isobel - Integrated SOlutions for BEd Load management

LIFE+ INADAR - Innovative and ecological approach for dam restoration

LIFE-GREEN4GREY designs and develops innovative and multifunctional green & blue infrastructure in Flanders grey peri-urban landscapes

INHABIT develops new measures to improve ecological quality in South European rivers and lakes on local hydro-morphology, habitat and RBMPs

Water pricing

Incentives to use water efficiently and transparent water pricing are not applied across all Member States and all water-using sectors, partly due to the lack of metering.

Consumptive uses should by default be subject to volumetric charges based on real use. This requires widespread metering, in particular for agriculture in basins where irrigation is the main water user.

There is lack of cost recovery, including for environmental, resource and infrastructure costs.

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WaterReg develops research studies focusing on incentive mechanisms for investment and long-term planning of water & sanitation services. Development of hybrid models ( 2018).

WIRE promotes new metering devices (in particular in combination with automated systems to schedule irrigation) have been identified as an important tool to better control water supply.

PVAIZEC includes metering concepts and provides technologies to reduce resource consumption and thus costs for irrigation (2017).

ESE will develop a unique set of economic indicators (in monetary values) that will allow economic comparison among diverse areas and different scenarios.

RTWQM, AugMent, Ctrl+Swan, and Photocatalysis (see descriptions above under "Monitoring") work on enhanced monitoring networking and management techniques in water quality, specifically in water supply, water re-use, and wastewater. (2016)

FinnoWater explores, develops and implements new approaches to increase financial flows in the water sector, particularly by incentivizing public procurement innovation of new technologies and services as well as other innovative financial tools and mechanisms. (2015 and ongoing)

SPADIS works on smart water pricing and drought insurance; including an information system to provide data on drivers, pressures and status on water use in Mediterranean countries. (2017)

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BeWater Promotes awareness campaigns where citizens are invited to consider their role in water economy

Funding and policy integration

Need for better implementation and increased integration of water policy objectives into other policy areas, including funding policies such as the CAP and the European structural and investment funds

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City Blueprint’s method supports integrative management as it includes several aspects of urban environmental management and links to broader initiatives such the revised smart city approach and the activities of the European Urban Agenda of the European Commission towards a more integrated approach in making Europe cleaner and more resilient. This is in line with the outcome of the 2nd Cities Forum.

FinnoWater explores, develops and implements new approaches to increase financial flows in the water sector, particularly by incentivizing public procurement innovation of new technologies and services as well as other innovative financial tools and mechanisms. (2015 and ongoing)

WIRE works on efficient water reuse in irrigation, energy saving in irrigation, and integrated agricultural water management under drought. As such it addresses agricultural productivity and sustainability, and indirectly and partly links to CAP.

EWW works on innovative crossovers between energy and water. Together with the COM, the group currently develops an approach to harmonize regulations.

W4EF This Action Group will develop a comprehensive approach to the water footprint of energy production. It will allow differentiating between water withdrawal, water consumption and net water consumption, and calculating different kinds of interactions between the activity and its water environment. The underlying project assumption is that existing frameworks and initiatives do not fulfill the need of the energy sector. The group will present intermediate results in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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MARS will derive policy briefs specifying the needs for agri-environmental measures.

BeWater is engaging different sectoral authorities (water, agriculture, tourism, forest,…) and actively promotes interdepartmental collaboration. At national level BeWater will produce an exhaustive intersectoral adaptation policy analysis.

AQUACROSS assesses the impact of management responses in 8 case studies across Europe; including an analysis of funding mechanisms encouraging uptake of innovation under appropriate Ecosystem Based Management responses.

SIM4NEXUS aims to address knowledge and technology gaps and thereby facilitate the design of policies within the Nexus. The project will deliver a Serious Game, a cloud-based, integrated tool for testing and evaluating policy decisions

MAGIC-NEXUS contributes a methodological framework where the needs for advice of different DG in the design of development strategies for the EU are covered using a method that can embrace the complexity of the nexus, for a better understanding of the interactions it holds

LIFE EBRO-ADMICLIM promotes adaptation and mitigation measures to climate change in the Ebro Delta

Coordinating implementation

Administrative or national boundaries should not be an obstacle to the choice of the most cost-effective measures

When choosing risk management measures under the FD, Member States should consider the wide range of long-term benefits of natural water retention measures.

Climate and socio-economic changes (e.g. urban sprawl and soil sealing land use – currently only considered by 1/3 of the plans) should be factored more widely in the Floods Directive implementation as they are important elements of flood risk management.

Synergies with the development of the first programme of measures under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive should be explored.

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ESE has developed a list of barriers, solutions and policy recommendations for the economic valuation of Ecosystem Services (available).

EWW and RE-Desalination work on innovative solutions in the water-energy nexus. Both Action Groups incorporate marine energy developments that partly relate to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2015 and ongoing).

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NWRM: Policy recommendations for implementation of Natural Water Retention Measures, Catalogue of 125 case studies, and Assessment of Costs/Benefits (2015).

BINGO provides specific sector-oriented and demand-driven solutions for climate-related challenges for highly vulnerable water resources of strategic importance (2018).

IMPREX produces a periodic hydrological risk outlook for Europe is produced, incorporating the dynamic evolution of hydro-climatic and socio-economic processes (2018).

BeWater proposes coordination protocols to foster implementation platforms at municipal level for adaptation measures

AQUACROSS identifies lessons for coordinated management (biodiversity, nature, water, marine environment and other related EU policies) of aquatic ecosystems as a continuum.

LIFE-IP RBMP-NWRBD UK aims to develop an Integrated water management approach to delivery of the North West England River basin management plan

LIFE WaterLIFE aims to support the delivery of the Water Framework Directive through collaborative action between civil society and the private sector

MY FAVOURITE RIVER fosters the sustainable use of and identification with the River Neckar in co-operative governance (national, municipal and regional level)