B4.4.1.2 The Implementation of the WFD in the UK


Identifying River Basin Districts

The competent authority is required to identify River Basin Districts, which are used to manage water districts. The Environment Agency state that in England and Wales they have identified 11 River Basin Districts:

  • “Six entirely in England (Anglian, Humber, North West, South East, South West, Thames districts)
  • One entirely in Wales (Western Wales district)
  • Two cross the border with England and Wales (Dee and Severn districts)
  • Two cross the border with England and Scotland (Northumbria and Solway Tweed districts).”


Identifying Water Bodies and Protected Areas

The competent authority is required to identify different types of water bodies (e.g. rivers, estuaries, coastal waters, or groundwater) and protected areas. This will allow the vulnerability to be assessed and future required work to be established.

Surface waters are characterised by their physical and chemical characteristics. Groundwaters are categorised by aquifer type. Certain areas are protected due to use, such as drinking water or as an important habitat. The WFD requires a register of protected areas to be maintained.

Identification of Risks

The WFD requires that risks are considered against the objectives of the WFD. These include issues such as alien species, pollution sources (diffuse, point and combined), water abstraction and flow regulation.

Where there are risks to water bodies, measures should be developed to mitigate these risks or to restore the water body if the impact has already occurred. Summaries of the required actions appear in the River Basin Management Plans.


The Environment Agency states that “monitoring is required to classify water bodies, improve risk assessments and programmes of measures.” Parameters to be monitored include biology (phytoplankton, diatoms, macrophytes, invertebrates and fish), hydromorphology, physico-chemical (including pollutants) and priority substances.

River Basin Management Planning

The Environment Agency states that “a River Basin Management Plan will be produced for each river basin district, every six years.” The plans will state the environmental objectives for the river basin district and summarise the actions that will be taken to meet these objectives.

Water is the only substance that is found naturally on earth in three forms: liquid, gas, solid.