The European Union’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC) came into force in December 2000 and became part of UK law in December 2003.
The WFD requires the waterbodies (both surface and groundwater) of all European Union member states to achieve ‘good ecological status’ or ‘good ecological potential’ by 2027. The Directive also requires that no waterbodies experience deterioration in status. Good status means good ecological status and good chemical status, as defined by a number of quantifiable quality elements:
Biological– fish, invertebrates, macrophytes, etc
Hydromorphological – channel morphology, connectivity, etc
Physio-chemical – phosphate, nitrate, dissolved oxygen, etc
Chemical – pollutants, heavy metals, etc
The Water Framework Directive works on the one-out all-out policy, meaning that if an individual quality element is not achieving good status for a particular watercourse then the entire waterbody is classified as failing.
Only 15 % of the waterbodies in the Don catchment currently meet the standards set by the Water Framework Directive, so there is lots to be done.
The WFD sets an enormous challenge in meeting the objectives of the improvement and the protection of the water environment and is the major driver for the sustainable management of water in the UK. The water environment includes all rivers, canals, lakes, estuaries, wetlands and coastal waters as well as water under the ground.
The WFD is seen by many as the most fundamental piece of water legislation ever, as it aims to restore the biodiversity and function of all surface freshwater bodies.
The free passage of fish (especially migratory fish) is a key requirement of the WFD, with fish being used as one of the indicators for assessing whether water bodies are meeting ‘good status’ for all ground and surface waters in the EU.
As such, DCRT are working to identify funding to enable us to provide, amongst other things, fish passage where there are barriers in the river. Our achievements so far include a fish pass on Hadfield Weir at Meadowhall Shopping Centre, eel passes on the River Rother at Beighton and Killamarsh and on the River Dearne at Bolton upon Dearne with others in the planning stages.