The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is one of the most ambitious pieces of environmental legislation ever enacted in Europe. It underpins the protection of our rivers, lakes and coastal waters, and obliges member states to improve the quality of these by 2021.

However, European legislation regularly undergoes a review, or ‘fitness check’, and the WFD is undergoing one now. Many member states have indicated that they find the objectives of the current water law too ambitious, that they don’t want to be bound by a deadline, or that they want to cherry pick different aspects of it, and leave out the more difficult parts. Lowering the standards currently required by law will make it easier for Member States, industry and agriculture to continue damaging our waters. This lack of ambition by Member States may render our legal water protection ineffective, to the detriment of our valuable freshwater habitats and species. This comes at a time when across Europe our waters are hugely threatened, and over 50% of them are considered to be unhealthy. This is not the time for a lack of ambition.

We are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction, the first to be human caused, in tandem with the massive threat posed by a changing climate. Our natural world is in dire straits, and when it goes, we go. Clean water is the building block for all life on our planet, if that’s not worth protecting, then what is?

What can we do about it?
We need to tell the EU that we care about our waters, that we want them to continue being strictly protected. The EU laws protecting European habitats underwent a similar fitness check in 2016, and there was such a strong public response supporting it that it was deemed fit for purpose, and wasn’t weakened. We need the same to happen for the legislation protecting our waters, but to achieve this we must work together.

The Sustainable Water Action Network (SWAN) have created a tool which will send a pre-prepared response to the consultation on your behalf, to ensure that the law remain strong and effective. It’s the only chance you’ll have to have your say. All you have to do is take 2 minutes to enter your details, and press send. It’s as easy as that. We want to get 2,000 Irish people to respond to the consultation- can you be one of them?

Please take a moment to speak up for water, it may mean the world.

unsplash-logoTrevor Cole