What is the WFD?

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is one of the most ambitious and progressive pieces of water legislation to come out of Europe.

We’ve made great progress improving our water environment over the last 20 years, but more needs to be achieved, especially if we are to deal with the pressures of a changing climate and a growing population.

Under the Directive, the UK will have to ensure that there is no deterioration in the quality of our water bodies, and that all water bodies improve to reach ‘good ecological status’ as soon as possible. The Directive uses a ‘one out, all out’ principal, meaning that a water body cannot reach good ecological status if any element, (such as phosphate, morphology, or biology) is less than good. Although this is challenging to achieve, it means we are looking at a far broader range of issues in water bodies and how they interact. This can only be good for the long term health of our rivers.

Key to achieving these ambitious targets is working in partnership across different organisations. By working together we can improve river habitat, tackle pollution and work with communities, businesses and farmers to ensure that we’re using water sustainably. Step by step we’re making a real difference to improving our water environment.

Each River Basin District across England has its own Management Plan, which outlines the main issues for the water environment and the actions that have been developed to tackle them. More locally, we work at a catchment level with partners and communities to protect and enhance rivers and watercourses. The Essex River Hub is just one example of this.

River basin management plans have recently been updates. The updated plans are available on the .GOV website. You will be able to find the updated Anglian river basin management plan (RBMPs) here:


Flood risk management planning is an also important part of a collaborative and integrated approach to catchment planning for water. These plans link with the previously published River Basin Management Plans, will help us to move further toward this.

The plans are available on the GOV.UK website. You will be able to find flood risk management plans (FRMPs) here:

FRMPs published by the Environment Agency:


You can also find out more about the Water Framework Directive by visiting the Environment Agency’s website.

For an update on the progress of the Water Framework Directive, please click here.

Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           ESWT Logo 70

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting based on an original concept by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust