Danube countries put pieces in place for river basin management
In February, Danube ministers will put into action an innovative approach to basin-wide issues by offering answers to the pressures and impacts on water status in the region.
The Danube River Basin Management Plan reflects the joint cooperation of 15 contracting parties focusing their efforts to achieve shared goals.
Celebrating the Danube and capturing the spirit of the interdependence of Danube countries and the need for cooperation in water management will be a focus of a Danube ministers meeting that will take place in February 2010. The Danube River Basin Management Plan, an action plan for achieving good status of all Danube Basin waters, will be at the centre of discussions at the ICPDR Ministerial Meeting to be held in Vienna, Austria.
The Ministerial Meeting will bring together Water Ministers from Danube countries, as well as representatives of ICPDR observer organizations. The meeting will review the historical problems of the Danube Basin and the successes achieved in addressing them. The meeting will focus on one of the most important milestones recently, the Danube River Basin Management Plan.
“The Ministerial Meeting marks a significant accomplishment for all of us in the Danube Basin,” says Mitja Bricelj, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning of Slovenia and ICPDR President for 2010. “The meeting also serves as an excellent reinforcement of the success of the ICPDR as a cooperation and collaboration platform.”
Innovative cooperation. The Danube River Basin Management Plan demonstrates an innovative approach to basin-wide issues by offering answers to the pressures and impacts on water status in the region. The Plan, approved by the ICPDR Heads of Delegation at the 12th Ordinary Meeting in December 2009, is a requirement of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). While obligatory for all EU Member States, all Danube countries committed themselves to implementing the WFD and creating the Plan, and the ICPDR was made the facilitating platform.
“Adoption of the Danube River Basin Management Plan is an historical moment for all Danube countries and a very concrete contribution to an efficient Danube Strategy,” says Bricelj.
The Danube River Basin Management Plan was a particular challenge in a river basin as large and diverse as the Danube. The Plan identifies – from a basin-side perspective – four of the most significant water management issues: organic pollution, nutrient pollution, hazardous substances pollution and hydromorphological alterations, as well as transboundary groundwater issues. The Danube River Basin Management Plan provides a description of each of the significant water management issues and responds with visions and management objectives. These issues are addressed by the Joint Programme of Measures, which forms an integral part of the Plan. The Joint Programme of Measures will serve as a common roadmap guiding activities in the region and ensuring the necessary harmonisation of actions at the basin level.
“The ICPDR’s work on the Danube River Basin Management Plan has produced a plan we can all be proud of,” says Philip Weller, Executive Secretary of the ICPDR, “and now is the time to put our plan into action.”
Additional efforts needed. The Danube River Basin Management Plan will result in significant first step towards achieving the ‘good status’ of water bodies that the WFD requires. However, the Joint Programme of Measures will not be sufficient to achieve the environmental objectives of the WFD on the basin-side scale by 2015 and will need to be addressed by further actions. In particular, nutrient pollution loads to the Black Sea will be well below present levels, but will still be 40% above targets. Limitations on phosphates in detergents are particularly costeffective and necessary measures to complement the efforts of implementing urban wastewater treatment. Ministers at the meeting in February will discuss introducing a phosphate ban in all Danube countries, which would set maximum limits for the total phosphorus content in laundry detergents for consumer use by 2012, and a market launch of phosphate-free dishwasher detergents for consumer use by 2015.
The Danube River Basin Management Plan reflects the joint cooperation of 15 contracting parties focusing their efforts to achieve shared goals. And with the political approval of the Plan, the Ministerial Meeting in February will secure the political commitment for the implementation of the measures identified in the Plan to meet the requirements of the WFD for 2015 and years to come.
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