The importance of water policy

Water apart from essential to people, is also essential for birds and biodiversity in general. In that sense, BirdLife Cyprus follows the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC; WFD) in Cyprus. In order to implement the WFD each Member State needs to adopt a River Basin Management Plan for each River Basin on its territory. For the purposes of the WFD Cyprus is considered as having only one River Basin. The main objectives of the Directive are the protection of aquatic ecology, the protection of unique and valuable habitats, and the protection of drinking and bathing waters. Even though the Directive is clearly the result of negotiations of northern countries, that normally worry more about floods and water pollution, it nevertheless sets some ambitious targets for achievement of ‘good status’ by 2015, which can be useful also to southern countries struggling more with water scarcity and droughts. Unfortunately though the Directive also leaves a lot of room for not meeting those targets, because of exceptions or various other reasons listed therein. The overall target of ‘good status’ is made more specific for ground waters or surface waters.

The Directive obliges Member States to submit a Register of Protected Areas which by definition include all Natura 2000 sites dependent on water, such as lagoons, rivers or lakes.

The Management Plans are based on six-year cycles and the current one, which was adopted by the Cyprus Ministerial Council on 7 October 2016, covers the period 2016-2021. BirdLife Cyprus commented on the current (2016-2021) and the previous Management Plan (2009-2015). BirdLife Cyprus’ comments related to the use of many exceptions and the unambitious targets set for the Cyprus water bodies for the achievement of ‘good status’, as well as the lack of attention to water bodies that are dependent on water and especially those in Natura 2000 areas, which consequently affect biodiversity too.

The WFD has a lot of potential to achieve more sustainable management of water resources, both in relation to quantity and quality, as well as impacts on the morphology of water bodies, but unfortunately its implementation has not yet, brought any tangible positive results, neither for nature nor for water management in Cyprus.

According to the Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment 2011/92/EU, as amended by 2014/52/EU, all Environmental Impact studies need to assess the impact on the objectives of the WFD too.

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