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Cost-effective Sets of Measures in the Water Framework Directive


Cost-effective Sets of Measures in the Water Framework Directive

The Water Framework Directive requires the establishment of programs of measures for river basins until 2009 in order to reach the set quality targets for water bodies. In this selection process the consideration of cost-efficiency criteria is mandated. The German study/handbook prepared by Ecologic in collaboration with the Institute of Water Resources Research and Management at the University of Kassel establishes guidelines for this selection process. The handbook has been published in English and German. 


Article 11 of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) foresees that until 2009, for each river basin a programme of measures has to be developed, which will ensure that the respective environmental targets can be achieved. The selection of these measures should also take account of cost-efficiency considerations, in order to find the least expensive way of reachingthe WFD objectives. As part of the project "Guidelines for the selection of cost-effective sets of measures according to the Water Framework Directive", Ecologic and the Institute of Aquatic Resources Research and Management at the University of Kassel  have developed a methodology for this selection process.

Based on a description of the relevant national and European guidelines for the implementation of the WFD and a survey of the prevailing pressures on German water bodies, an exemplary catalogue of 27 potentially applicable measures and instruments was compiled. The included measures and instruments are described in greater detail in data sheets contained in the annexes of the report. The study differentiates between concrete technical measures and administrative, economic and informational instruments, which facilitate and support the implementation of the measures.

Starting point for the methodology developed in this project is the analysis of pressures and impacts according to the WFD until December 2004. Based on an inventory of the prevailing pressures and sources, potentially relevant sets of measures and supporting instruments are selected. In the ensuing multi-step evaluation process taking into consideration the ecological effectiveness of these sets, the probability of reaching the WFD-objectives until 2015, the time frame necessary for their implementation and a prioritisation with respect to the direct and indirect costs involved, the most cost-effective combination is identified. While the derived method constitutes a preliminary recommendation to decision-makers in water management, a further development and specification as well as an adjustment of the proposed method to local conditions and experiences is mandated.

As part of the project an expert workshop took place in September 2003 where representatives from authorities, various stakeholder groups as well as academia discussed and further developed a draft version of the handbook. Overall, the methodological approach proposed by the handbook was received with support. More information on the workshop is available on the expert workshop's website.

Contents of the study

Two main outputs have come forth from the research project: first, a practice-oriented handbook comprising the central chapters in which the methodology is developed and explained, as well as exemplary applications of this methodology and data sheets describing individual measures and instruments. In addition to this, a more extensive research report, featuring additional background material, has been also been prepared.

A paper copy of the handbook as well as the extensive research report (German only) can be obtained from:

Umweltbundesamt, Zentraler Antwortdienst
Bismarckplatz 1, 14193 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 89 03-2135/2137/2304/2400/2422
Fax: +49 30 89 03-2912

Universität Kassel, Institut für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft (IWAU), Germany
Dietrich Borchardt
Jörg Willecke
Sandra Richter
July 2002 to November 2003
Project ID
European Environmental Policy, Water Framework Directive, WFD, Sets of measures, cost-efficiency