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Water and land

Consciousness of the threat represented by quality and quantity degradation of water resources has increased over the years. As well as problems related to poor management of land and soils. The presence of a number of different administrative and enforcement structures operating in a single thematic area, the need to operate in a defined strategical line set up by framework directives and insufficient evidence, data and information, are reported as major causes for implementation gap. This consequently can endanger the capability of Water Managers in planning adequate interventions.

In order to deal with these challenges, the Water and Land Expert Team is taking into consideration two approaches:

  • a traditional one, from IMPEL’s point of view, to Environmental protection, based on inspection and promotion; and
  • a relatively innovative one, which looks at environmental monitoring as instrument to support strategic planning required by Framework Directives

The topics of the activity, in this view, will be enforceable duties directly or indirectly related to directives such as Water Framework Directive, Nitrates Directive, Marine Strategy directives; in the view of the Soil Health Law also, projects related to water and land remediation of contaminated sites, mining areas management and other soil threats will be promoted. 


Key areas

  • Water and land remediation
  • Diffuse pollution
  • Mining areas
  • Soil threats
  • Land take
  • Cross Compliance in CAP
  • Water Management
  • Support to Planning Managers in implementation of Framework and Strategy Directives on W&L topics
  • Agriculture and cross compliance in CAP

Relevant legislation

Related projects

  • Water and Land Remediation

    The contaminated sites management is a process that has different speeds in Members States. This is due partly on difference in legislation that would mean different definitions as for making some examples “potentially contaminated sites”, “contaminated sites”, “remediated sites”. For this reason, the European Commission-JRC launched an initiative with EEA-EIONET network to find common definitions and a survey in MS in 2018 (https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/statuslocal-soil-contamination-europe-revision-indicator-progress-management-contaminated-sites) that resulted in defining 6 site statuses.

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  • Europe Marine Transborder Transect

    For many years, several research bodies have worked on monitoring cetaceans using large vessels and ferries as platform of observations. The two main European networks are the FLT MED NETwork led by ISPRA and the Atlantic Network led by ORCA (which publishes yearly the “state of European cetacean”). The networks are expanding also for the southern countries of the Mediterranean Region (such as Tunisia and Morocco). There is a strong need for all the team leaders of the different research bodies to meet and strengthen the collaboration, the best practices, and the improvement of the common research and shared monitoring protocol as well as expanding the survey coverage.

    [Read more]
  • Trend Reversal in Groundwater Pollution

    Art. 4 of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) obliges Member States, among other things, to protect, enhance and restore all bodies of groundwater with the aim of achieving good groundwater status by December 2015, and to implement the measures necessary to reverse any significant and sustained upward trend in the concentration of pollutants. In actual fact, however, 25 % of ground water bodies in the EU (and e.g. 36 % in Germany) were chemically in a poor status in 2015, mostly due to pollution with nitrates and pesticides from agriculture. Moreover, according to an EEA report of 2018, the total groundwater body area with an identified upward trend of pollution is still nearly double the area with a trend reversal (9.9 % against 5.9 % of area).

    [Read more]
  • Sustainable Landspreading

    The project (SWETE-Safeguarding the Water Environment Throughout Europe, phases I-V) seeks to build a common understanding of our regulatory approaches, build networks of experts and develop shared resources to enhance technical resilience, into the water environment arena (and specifically on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). SWETE phase VII and the 2021 Sustainable Landspreading project focuses on the study of the capacity of soils to accept contaminants from land spreading activities.

    [Read more]
  • Wastewater in Natural Environment (WiNE)

    This work package targets to help Member States on the transition to the Circular Economy within the water cycle. Through the share of good practices in urban, industrial and food production water management, in terms of water use and reuse (use of treated wastewaters as an alternative water source) is intended to identify and improve solutions in terms of water use efficiency (taking into account both quality and quantity aspects), that may contribute to zero pollution solutions.

    [Read more]
  • Water crimes

    The Council Conclusions on countering environmental crime (8 December 2016) have recognised the role of IMPEL in countering Environmental Crimes, but a common definition of “water crimes” is a challenging task. Furthermore, water-related crimes are often recoded under other offences – like fraud, corruption, trafficking, falsification of documents, terrorism – for the absence of a systematic analytical approach. The nature and extent of these kinds of activities is still relatively unknown. Based on this background, this proposal aims at increasing knowledge on water crimes, engaging the IMPEL Community in a project aimed at collecting and sharing information about the topic, its presence, its perception and management at competent authorities.

    [Read more]
  • National Peer Review Initiative (NPRI)

    The project aims at setting the basis for the development of autonomous Peer Review activities in National Networks of Environmental Authorities and Agencies. It can be used as an instrument to improve own performances through dialog, collaborative confrontation and sharing of good practices among the peers belonging to the same network.

    [Read more]
  • Capacity Building and Training

    In the last several years IMPEL and the European Commission have issued their positions concerning capacity building and consequently different IMPEL projects are now taking the initiative to develop their ideas on how to support its members in implementing the products that they deliver.

    [Read more]
  • Management of Mining Waste

    Mining activity has always been a source of raw materials for man but at the same time has generated many environmental problems. Huge quantities of extractive waste, often abandoned, are sources of pollution and areas of geotechnical and hydrogeological instability. Nowadays, after numerous accidents involving mining activities, the European Commission adopted the Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries (known as Mining Directive) that amended Directive 2004/35/EC.

    [Read more]
  • Water & Land Conferences

    IMPEL has been asked by the European Commission to expand and apply its regulatory capability into the Water & Land Expert Team. Effective water and land resource management (both quality and quantity) relies on good forward planning and delivery based on data, information and professional judgement. It is essential that economic growth in each Member State supports planned sustainable water & Land resource protection and utilization. Futhermore, ECA Initiative, promoted by the European Commission pose new challenges, in particular on point n.5 (Prepare guidance document(s) on good practices in environmental compliance assurance in rural areas (in relation to land and water)) that need to be investigated, discussed, to find out proposals to fulfill the ambitious IMPEL’s further evolution perspective.

    [Read more]
  • River Development Planning

    Many rivers, lakes and streams in the EU are far away from the good water status that they should have reached by December 2015 or should reach at the latest by 2027, according to the EU Water Framework Directive. In Germany, for instance, only 10 % of rivers and streams have a good ecological and chemical status, due to pollution by wastewater, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, heavy canalization, obstruction by hydro dam barriers, as well as urban sprawl and ground sealing in the catchment areas. In order to reduce and reverse these impacts on water status, it is necessary to assess them in an integrated way and carefully prioritise the necessary measures.

    [Read more]
  • Achieving better compliance in the agricultural sector through networking and partnership working of environmental and agricultural inspectorates

    The European Commission identified this project area as a priority to IMPEL. They highlighted that there are poor levels of compliance with the Water Framework Directive (diffuse pollution & illegal abstraction) and the Nitrates Directive and that a gap has been identified between “environmental” and “agricultural” inspectorates. As a result they wished to see enhanced networking of different regulatory agencies to achieve higher levels of compliance in the agricultural sector, an exchange of pertinent information and current best practice with respect to diffuse pollution and the control of nitrates.

    [Read more]
  • Reducing pesticides in water

    The balance between a competitive agricultural production and the protection of water ecosystems is a concern for the EU member states within the common agricultural policy (CAP) and the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Instruments for achieving sustainable use of pesticides are voluntary agro-environment commitments funded within Rural Development Programs (RDPs) and regulatory minimum requirements of cross compliance and basic measures according to WFD. In order to achieve the objectives of good status in ground- and surface waters, article 11.3 in WFD states that a review of, and if necessary updates of, the measures to prevent and control the use of pesticides should be performed and included in the River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs). The national regulation in order to reach the objectives should be described and this legal baseline of basic measures to prevent and control the use of pesticides according to the directive (2009/128/EC) of sustainable use of pesticides should be identified in the program of measures that the member states are finalising in December 2015 according to WFD. Furthermore, according to WFD risk based (operational) monitoring programs should be designed in order to follow the need of measures in order to reduce pollutants in ground- and surface waters. These costs of monitoring are within the member states to a various extent covered by the public and the pesticide users. The implementation of the WFD has been running for the first management cycle and there are various implementation gaps in member states depending on prerequisites and national problems and opportunities. IMPEL network plans to exchange plans and strategies for facilitating further implementation of the WFD in national law in order to achieve a harmonized balance between obligatory and voluntary measures and a harmonised use of the polluter pays principle when costs of monitoring are to be shared.

    [Read more]
  • Water & land expert team meeting

    The new IMPEL strategy provides for Expert Teams (ET), among which Water and Land Expert Team. It is necessary that, at least once per year, members of the ET meet to discuss projects outcomes, progress and future activities and the appointment of the ET Leader and Deputy Leader for 2017 and 2018. The projects provide for a meeting, for a maximum of 20 persons, to be held back to back with a conference; likely with the IMPEL Water Conference in the framework of SWETE 2 project. The outcomes will be related to an increased strength of Expert Team, clear priorities, better defined programmes aiming to tackle water and land issues from the IMPEL’s point of view.

    [Read more]
  • Good Practice for Tackling Nitrate Pollution from Farms and Farmsteads

    Nitrate pollution from agriculture is a crucial area for IMPEL to work on due to poor levels of compliance with the Water Framework Directive and the Nitrates Directive. During 2013 a successful project was held to establish networks between agricultural and environmental inspectors in the field of diffuse pollution and the Nitrates Directive. Two field visits were held looking at the two primary topic areas. Members of the project identified that they wish to continue work in this area through the development of more exchange visits and through the development of a guidance document to share good practice identified in this area to aid implementation.

    [Read more]
  • Water Over-abstraction and Illegal Abstraction Detection and Assessment (WODA)

    Over-abstraction occurs not only for irrigation use but even for industrial and civil uses and can cause in some cases dramatic effects on soil subsidence. Typical cases of illegal water abstraction occur when wells are operating without permit, or when water is pumped form rivers or channels without permit. Earth Observation (EO), especially satellite remote sensing, can provide well established methods for the monitoring of water abstraction. The detection of illegal water abstraction is a further step forward and is feasible only if permits are organized in a proper GIS. At first instance, EO methods for the monitoring of water abstraction could be summarized as follows:

    [Read more]
  • Soil Conference

    IMPEL is organising the 2015 Soil Conference, with the scope of sharing experiences and to support the implementation of best practices about soil protection among Practitioners at EU level. The context is the “International Year of Soils (IYS)”, declared by the United Nations for this year and, in general the opportunity of developing at awareness raising initiatives on protection of this vital environmental compartment.

    [Read more]
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