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Implementation of EU Water Framework Directive in Spain, France and Italy

General WFD principles have been practised in these three countries for years, even decades. The Directive itself however imposes a more strict and coherent framework.

Agriculture will undergo the following constraints under the Directive:

  • an obligation for dialogue with competing water resource uses with the objective of maintaining a healthy state of resources
  • more rigorous management of irrigation particularly regarding ground water usage
  • more rational use of fertilisers and pesticides with the objective of maintaining ground and surface water quality
  • increased financial participation in water management.

The Directive applies uniformly to all countries of the European Union. Characteristics specific to Mediterranean areas are likely to make its application more difficult:
  • a climate with contrasting seasons gives rise to a very irregular hydrological system for fresh surface water
  • a significant proportion of karstic ground water whose characteristics are very different to ground water in porous environments
  • agriculture that is highly dependent on irrigation (often the dominant water use); irrigation needs appear during periods when water resources are least abundant
  • a large tourist industry that consumes a significant amount of water during periods of low water levels; tourism contributes to water pollution whilst simultaneously increasing demand on high quality water (drinking water, bathing, water sports
  • large hydraulic installations (built to harness irregular water supplies in order to satisfy demand) that are themselves prone to strong seasonal variations.

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