Main authors: Susanne Wuijts, Jacqueline Claessens, Luke Farrow, Donnacha G Doody, Susanne Klages, Christophoros Christophoridis, Rozalija Cvejić, Matjaž Glavan, Ingrid Nesheim, Froukje Platjouw, Isobel Wright, Jenny Rowbottom, Morten Graversgaard, Cors van den Brink, Inês Leitão, António Ferreira, Sandra Boekhold
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: »Wuijts, S. et al. (2021) Protection of drinking water resources from agricultural pressures: effectiveness of EU regulations in the context of local realities. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 6.3R 70 pp


Contents table
1. Case studies
2. Analytical framework
3. Questionnaires
4. Limitations and uncertainties

1. Case studies

The effectiveness of EU legislation on the restoration of drinking water resources and their protection from agricultural pollution was examined using empirical research as carried out in the H2020-FAIRWAY-project (, last accessed January 12th, 2021). For 13 case study areas in Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia, Multi Actor Platforms (MAPs) were installed or are under construction aiming to facilitate aspects of local-regional governance approaches (Sundnes, Van den Brink et al. 2020). These MAPs are a more-or-less ongoing mechanism for actors from different sectors and levels, including farmers, advisors, drinking water companies, scientists and policy makers, to meet regularly to foster the exchange of ideas and initiatives and promote joint decision-making and collaboration in a continuously evolving way (Acquaye-Baddoo 2010). The size of these case study areas varies as a consequence of both institutional settings and water system characteristics, ranging from a few hundred km2 to tens of thousands of km2 (local to regional scale). The 13 case study areas cover different types of drinking water resources, pedo-climatic zones, type of farming, land use, legal framework, and governance approaches used, and offer a pan-European view of experiences with local governance arrangements for the protection of drinking water resources from agricultural pollution (Sundnes, Van den Brink et al. 2020). Table 2.1 presents an overview of the case studies used in our analysis. (For more detailed descriptions see »Case studies).

In this article, three of these 13 case studies will be presented more extensively as they elucidate some of the key results of our analysis and demonstrate local experiences. These are the cases from Northern Ireland (Derg Catchment), Germany (Lower Saxony) and Greece (North Greece).

Table 2.1 Overview of case studies.

Country Case study name Type of Resource for Drinking Water  Principal Water Quality Issue(s)
Nitrates Pesticides
Denmark Island Tunø Groundwater x x
Denmark Aalborg Groundwater x x
England Anglian Water Surface water   x
France La Voulzie Groundwater (springs) x x
Germany Lower Saxony Groundwater x  
Greece North Greece Groundwater and surface water x x
Netherlands Overijssel Groundwater x x
Netherlands Noord-Brabant Groundwater   x
Northern Ireland Derg catchment Surface water   x
Norway Vansjø Surface water x  
Portugal Baixo Mondego Ground and surface water x x
Romania Arges-Vedea Groundwater x  
Slovenia Dravsko Polje Groundwater x x

2. Analytical framework

The literature contains many descriptions of frameworks for analysing conditions of water governance (e.g. (Pahl-Wostl, Lebel et al. 2012, Van Rijswick, Edelenbos et al. 2014, OECD 2015)) and although these frameworks encompass similar elements, they differ in terms of accents and scope (Wuijts, Driessen et al. 2017). For instance, the analytical framework drawn up for sustainable water governance (Van Rijswick, Edelenbos et al. 2014) has a diagnostic nature with an explicit focus on implementation and the attainment of objectives. The framework developed by Pahl-Wostl, Lebel et al. (2012) aims to compare and quantify the governance approaches used in different river basins. This scale, however, is too aggregated for the purpose of our study (local to regional scale). The investigation of local-regional governance arrangements for attainment of EU objectives, requires a framework that facilitates an analysis across scales, encompassing both the national implementation and the local to regional experiences with the attainment of objectives. For this reason, the OECD Water Governance Principles (2015) were used as a framework for our analysis.

The OECD principles are based on the general principles of good governance: legitimacy, transparency, accountability, human rights, rule of law and inclusiveness (OECD 2015). The framework contains three mutual reinforcing dimensions: Effectiveness, Efficiency and Trust and Engagement. Data has been collected for all twelve principles of the analytical framework. Since this article focuses on the criteria coherence, consistency and the attainment of objectives at local level, the results related to these criteria are described here (see Table 2.). A full summary of data can be found in the supplementary material (Annex I and II).

Table 2. OECD Water Governance Principles (OECD 2015) that are included in the analysis of the criteria consistency, coherence and, mode of implementation and the attainment of objectives at local level.

Dimensions and Principles
Analytical framework (OECD, 2015)

Criteria for analysis
Consistency of EU regulation Coherence across sectors and levels Attainment of objectives at local level
Effectiveness Capacity  x   x
Policy coherence   x  
Appropriate scales within basin systems x x x
Clear roles and responsibilities x x  
Efficiency Regulatory frameworks in place and enforced   x x
Data and information     x
Trust and Engagement Trade-offs across users, areas, and generations     x
Stakeholder engagement x    
Integrity and Transparency   x  

3. Questionnaires

The national implementation and the resulting local-regional governance arrangements in the case studies served as the unit of our analysis; an analysis which was carried out in four consecutive steps.

Firstly, the four principles related to the Effectiveness dimension were broken down into 37 questions which were put into questionnaires for each of the case studies. The questionnaire was developed based on information from literature (OECD 2009, OECD 2015, OECD 2015, Nava, Brown et al. 2016, Belmans, Campling et al. 2018, UN 2018), and the questions themselves related to different institutional levels and geographical scales, so that the coherence and consistency of EU legislation could be analysed at the local-regional level, as well as the implementation at the national level. As EU directives are often implemented on a sectoral basis (Keessen, Runhaar et al. 2011), the questionnaire applied to each of the relevant directives. The respondents to the questionnaires varied: some, for example, were filled out by the experts and MAP coordinators involved in the FAIRWAY project. For each country, 2 to 6 respondents filled out the questionnaires. If this expertise was not present in the project, external policy makers and experts were consulted who had a regional to local view. For all cases, the questionnaires were completed by multiple respondents and the results were discussed when different views arose.

Secondly, the principles within the other two dimensions of the analytical framework, Efficiency and Trust and Engagement, were analysed, such as regulatory frameworks, monitoring and evaluation and stakeholder engagement. To this end, a set of 14 questions was formulated. These questions were derived from an earlier study on governance approaches regarding drinking water resources in the Netherlands (Wuijts, Driessen et al. 2017) (»Data collection questionnaire). The answers to the questions were delivered in writing and then clarified further during carousel discussion sessions with the MAP coordinators.

Thirdly, the data were aggregated per principle and per country for further analysis. All the questionnaires that were filled out were collated in a spreadsheet, one for each directive studied, containing the results of all the individual questions, and clustered for the different OECD principles. Consequently, the results of the individual questions were first combined into a synopsis for the different directives, but separately for the different case studies and countries. Subsequently, the results were aggregated into a summarising text for each of the principles covering all of the case studies and contries. Two researchers from different countries in the FAIRWAY project carried out the aggregation of results individually and subsequently compared and discussed the results to avoid interpretative errors. The results of the analysis were reported back to the MAP coordinators for feedback and discussion (»Questionnaire summary results).

Finally, the answers for the different countries were summarised into one concluding answer for each question, leaving room to highlight differences and similarities in implementation strategies between directives and countries that might affect effectiveness. These results were reported back to the experts and stakeholders involved for feedback and discussion (»Results synthesis).

The different stages of the data collection and analysis are depicted in Figure 2.1.

D6.3 fig2.1
Figure 2

4. Limitations and uncertainties

Data for this study was collected through interviews and questionnaires. Policy documents and (grey) literature on the case studies were used as additional source of information. Using this methodology meant that the results relied strongly on the level of expertise of the interviewees. Information not provided by an interviewee could thus be lacking in the analysis. Checks and balances were included in the process of data analysis to overcome this potential bias, by requesting that the questionnaires were filled out by pairs or groups, by complementing the questionnaires with group discussions with experts from other countries and cases, by analysing the data-set in parallel for countries other than your own and by asking the MAP coordinators to reflect on the final dataset.



For full references to papers quoted in this article see


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