The Water Framework Directive (WFD) introduces a holistic approach to the management of water quality and through River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) establishes a system for the protection and improvement of all aspects of the water environment including rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater.


The Water Framework Directive is a piece of European Union legislation designed to preserve, restore and improve the water environment. It establishes a framework for managing the water environment in a holistic manner taking into account environmental, social and economic factors.

The Directive was established in October 2000 by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union that proposes legislation, implements EU policies and enforces EU law. Each of the Member States of the European Union is required to implement the legislation and achieve the environmental objectives the Directive sets.

  • All surface water bodies to achieve good ecological and chemical status by 2015. This covers inland waters, transitional waters (estuaries) and coastal waters.
  • All groundwater bodies to achieve good groundwater quantitative and chemical status by 2015.
  • Heavily-modified water bodies and artificial water bodies to achieve good ecological potential and good surface water chemical status by 2015.
  • No water bodies to experience deterioration in status from one class to another.
  • Protected Areas to achieve the requirements made under their designation in relation to the water environment.

River Basin Management Plans

To implement the WFD River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) were prepared, these can be used if you need:

  • information on the plan for the protection and improvement of the water environment
  • to know how future plans may affect an industry sector and its obligations
  • to ensure a development proposal considers the requirements of the RBMP
  • to apply for an environmental permit
  • to contribute to the delivery of the plan or maximise potential funding for a project

Proposed Updates

River Basin Management Plans must be reviewed and updated every 6 years and a consultation on the draft proposed updates to RBMPs was open from October 2014 to April 2015. The proposed updates have been released on

These plans give an early indication of how the final RBMPs will look. There are plans in place to publish the final RBMPs on 22 December 2015.

You can download the proposed 2015 updates for each RBMPs by clicking here.

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H2Ogeo provides bespoke hydrogeology and environmental consultancy on areas relating to groundwater and land contamination. For technical assistance with permitting, risk assessments, conceptual site modelling you can get in touch:

To find out more about H2Ogeo or the River Basin Management Plans visit the website

Reference: Environment Agency, and RBMP WFD.