Policy brief: From farm to drinking water - fit for the future?
|Sandra Boekhold, Susanne Wuijts, Froukje Platjouw, Isobel Wright, Berit Hasler
|»Boekhold, S. et al. (2021) From farm to drinking water - fit for the future? FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 6.5, 9 pp
In the other Policy & Governance research tasks we examine »Coherence in EU law and policy for the protection of drinking water resources, »Governance arrangements in case studies, »Effectiveness of EU legislation in the context of local realities and »Cost-effective and coherent management models for drinking water protection. The results from these tasks form the foundation for the development of a policy brief for EU policy with five key messages towards improving governance conditions to better protect drinking water resources against agricultural pollution from nitrate and pesticides.
|1. Key messages
|2. Policy brief
1.1 Coherence and consistency
Good drinking water needs a policy framework, including legal and economic instruments, that is firm and clear. Inconsistencies between directives, policies, objectives and requirements weaken their effectiveness. Alternatively, improving correlations and cross-referencing them strengthens the overall framework of policies and directives, making them more effective tools for protecting our drinking water resources.
Each directive addresses parts of the complex challenge to protect drinking water resources from agricultural pollution, while also enabling economic development for farmers. Good drinking water quality requires sufficient capacity at the local level to ensure that implementation of policies and laws results in consistent, coherent and effective local action. The EU legal and policy framework can support these local efforts and increase their impact.
1.3 Feedback mechanisms
Well-designed feedback mechanisms could support connections between local/regional challenges to improvements in the plethora of policy and legal instruments provided by EU and national government. These mechanisms should specifically include the intersectoral dependencies that promote water quality ambitions. The risk-based approach in the recent revision of the DWD is an example of such an improved interlinkage.
1.4 Intersectoral learning
Additional capacity (knowledge and means) is needed to improve the transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach, over scales and sectors. A combination of top-down and a bottom-up approaches will give extra impetus and improvement. The EU could support this process of capacity building by facilitating international and intersectoral learning.
Economic pressure from agriculture severely limit local room to manoeuvre to further improve water quality. Measures mentioned by stakeholders as effective, like catch crops and buffer zones, will contribute to water quality improvement. However, what can be achieved in the local optimisation process is only a fraction of what can be achieved with more structural policy choices that reduce inputs and pressures at their source. In view of current policy initiatives such as the Green Deal and From Farm to Fork, the EU, its Member States and partnering states should incorporate the impact on water quality in assessments and policy choices on all levels.
Note: Download the policy brief