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LIFEnews features 2009

LIFE water conference spotlights contributions to the WFD

LIFE Environment water conferenceThe conference brought together
over 150 EU water specialists.

Water experts from around Europe gathered in Brussels last month to exchange experience and knowledge about the important lessons from LIFE funded actions in support of the EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD).

European water resources continue to experience significant levels of stress from a variety of sources, and October’s “Water for life – LIFE for water” conference explored the range of positive contributions that LIFE projects have been making to help achieve WFD goals concerning good ecological status of EU waters by 2015 and EU seas by 2020.

The conference brought together over 150 EU water specialists and provided a valuable opportunity to exchange know-how about managing both the quality and quantity of Europe’s water. Plenary presentations included confirmation from European Commission speakers of ongoing priorities for WFD stakeholders. These noted references to the River Basin Management Plans that, once finalised by the end of this year, will provide up to date intelligence and a comprehensive set of water management tools covering the entire EU 27.

Other issues attracting interest from delegates included the concept of water ‘proofing’ of policies and measures being implemented in Member States or developed at EU level. ‘Water-proofing’ was suggested as a beneficial complement to the potential introduction of ‘climate-proofing’ and could act in a similar way by providing an ex-ante mechanism for checking (or ‘proofing’) the compatibility of economic, social and environmental policy proposals with WFD agendas.

LIFE’s water portfolio

LIFE Environment water conference

Much of the conference focused on the lessons from LIFE’s portfolio of water-related projects. Staff from the projects provided their perspectives and experiences through presentations grouped into four main topics, covering: adaptation to climate change, hydromorphological alterations of water bodies, eutrophication and marine environment issues.

LIFE projects from 12 Member States were presented in these topic areas including:

  • Austria’s LiRiLi LIFE02 ENV/A/000282 focusing on sustainable urban water engineering techniques applied in the river Liesing catchment around Vienna;
  • Estonia’s Estwaste LIFE00 ENV/EE/000924 introducing the country’s first cost-effective wastewater purification system using vegetation filters;
  • Finland’s INNOWA LIFE00 ENV/FIN/000668 resulting in an integrated network of actors to restore and improve the Karjaanjoki river basin’s ecological status;
  • France’s MARECLEAN LIFE06 ENV/F/000136 modelling tool for assessing pollution risks from wastewater discharges in coastal areas and monitoring bathing or river water quality;
  • Germany’s WAgriCo LIFE 05 ENV/D/000182 new participation methods and technologies for reducing diffuse pollution from farms and strengthening water management capacity;
  • Greece’s Water Agenda LIFE04/ENV/GR/000099 implementing an integrated water management policy at the river basin level in order to address regional water scarcity;
  • Hungary’s SUMAR LIFE03 ENV/H/000280 addressing issues such as flood prevention and habitat restoration in the River Tisza floodplains;
  • Italy’s CAMI LIFE04 ENV/IT/000500 demonstrating integrated approaches to mitigating climate change impacts on water availability via innovative management techniques;
  • Spain’s Almond Pro Soil LIFE05 ENV/ES/000288 which established sustainable agriculture systems adapted to the specific needs of arid environments affected by water stress;
  • Sweden’s Coastal Woodlands LIFE02 ENV/S/000355 support for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive via forest-based integrated coastal zone management activities; and
  • The UK’s MrMoToWFO LIFE 06 ENV/UK/000401 work targeting indicators and actions to align Managed Realignments Sites in estuaries with WFD requirements.

Feedback received from Water for LIFE participants about the relevance of these projects, and from the conference in general, was very positive, and similar LIFE dissemination events are expected to be staged in the future to showcase other LIFE developments in different nature or environment fields.

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