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Water balances and water resources management targets

Guidance document and water accounts works

As mentioned in the Blueprint, bringing in water accounting and water efficiency targets at sectoral level would provide a stronger basis for effective and targeted water protection measures. Water Accounts can tell how much water flows in and out of a river basin and how much water can realistically be expected to be available before allocation takes place.

To establish some common ground on the development of water accounts, a drafting group was created on 2014 with MS and stakeholders representatives within the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) of the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

The group produced this Guidance document, which focuses on the development of water asset accounts (water balances), and it has been endorsed by Water Directors on 27 May 2015. All related material is available in CIRCABC.

The aim of the document is to promote a coherent framework to cross-evaluate the information on drivers, pressures and impacts on water quantity (including in terms of the coherence between water abstraction and water recharge, water flows between water bodies/catchments, storage changes over time, etc.). Furthermore, it provides a sound basis for the quantitative management of water resources, which in turn can help towards the achievement of WFD objectives.

While the main work within the CIS is considered as completed by the finalisation of the Guidance document, further works on economic, hybrid and quality accounts, might be developed in the future. In addition, Eurostat is expanding the scope of its water statistics working group to cover water accounts, the EEA has developed water accounts works at the EU level and is currently working on the Water Exploitation Index (WEI+) formulas application and their follow-up (thresholds). Moreover, the JRC is developing a hydro-economic model that could have direct links to water accounts.

Grants and technical reports

A Call for Proposals 2012-2013 on preparatory action on development of prevention activities to halt desertification in Europe was launched, following previous calls. The main objective of the Call was to develop additional pilot projects on the building of water balances at the local level. The Call was published at the following website.

The Commission awarded 7 beneficiaries and the following projects received financing:

  • New developments in Water Accounts Implementation in Guadiana river basin (GUASEEAW+)
  • Accounting System for the Segura River and Transfers (ASSET),
  • Duero River Basin: Water resources, water accounts and target sustainability indices (DURERO),
  • Pilot Arno Water accounts (PAWA),
  • System of Water Accounting in the Guadalquivir River Basin (SYWAG),
  • Water accounting in a multi-catchment district (WAMCD),
  • Water balances in the Tagus River Basin (PROTAGUS),

In 2012 a project for the elaboration of physical water balances at sub-catchment level with monthly resolution was carried out for DG Environment with technical support from the European Environmental Agency.

Final report (4 documents):

The project demonstrates the benefits of building a consistent framework for physical water accounts at EU level with a high degree of geographical, temporal and sectoral accuracy, for the consistency of data collection , the development of water accounting methodologies and the assessment of water balance and water efficiency. This will allow the improvement of water scarcity and water efficiency indicators.

The data collection and calculation was based on water use data reported at EU level via various reporting streams. The project highlighted important gaps in the availability of key data and confirms the need to design a more cost-effective process and to improve interaction between modelled and reported data.

The outcome of the process (as well as the parallel process on EU-wide hydro-economic modelling) was discussed in the meeting of Water Directors in November 2012, following a technical workshop that took place on 7/9/2012 with experts nominated by Member States and SCG stakeholders.

The study was complemented by 3 pilot projects carried out in 6 river basins across the EU, in the context of a 2011 Call for Proposals concerning preparatory action on development of prevention activities to halt desertification in Europe. The Commission awarded 3 beneficiaries with a grant to pilot the building of water balances at the local level and complementing the EU water resources balances. The following pilot projects received financing: