Table of contents

2.4. Ecological status and exemptions

The WFD defines its Environmental Objectives in Article 4 and sets the aim for long term sustainable water management. Article 4(1) defines the WFD’s general objective to be achieved in all surface and groundwater bodies, i.e. good status (for natural water bodies) or potential (for Artificial or Heavily Modified Water Bodies) by 2015, and introduces the principle of preventing any further deterioration of status. A number of exemptions to the general objectives are possible under certain conditions.

  • Article 4(4) allows for an extension of the deadline beyond 2015.
  • Article 4(5) allows for the achievement of less stringent objectives.
  • Article 4(6) allows a temporary deterioration in the status of water bodies.
  • Article 4(7) sets out conditions in which deterioration of status or failure to achieve certain of the WFD Environmental Objectives may be permitted for new modifications to the physical characteristics of surface water bodies, and deterioration from high to good status may be possible as a result of new sustainable human development activities.


The WFD provides the general framework on exemptions but there is scope for differences in understanding and implementation. From the outset of implementation, it was clear that the use of exemptions needed to be explained further and the rules for application had to be made clearer. These clarifications can be found in the CIS Guidance Document No. 20: Exemptions to the Environmental Objectives published in 2009.
Annex V of the WFD specifies how Member States are to monitor and present overall ‘status’ classification for each of their water bodies in all water categories, as well as the status for each of the Biological Quality Elements (BQEs) / Quality Elements (QEs) used.

comments (0)

Class: SurfaceWaterBody

  1. Please include here any comments which apply to all the schema elements in this Class.
  2. In addition to those general schema element level comments, we welcome your views on: a) whether you think this Class can be simplified;  and b) whether you think the linkages with other reporting Classes or Schemas can be improved, and how;

comments (0)

swEcologicalStatusOrPotentialValue - Required(EcologicalStatusCode_Enum).

Indicate the ecological status or potential of the surface water body, based on the most recently assessed status of the surface water body.

comments (0)

swEcologicalAssessmentYear - Required.

Provide the year on which the assessment of status or potential is based. This may be the year that the surface water body was monitored. In case of grouping this may be the year in which monitoring took place in the surface water bodies within a group that are used to extrapolate results to non-monitored surface water bodies within the same group. A period is possible (e.g. 2011--2013).

comments (0)

swEcologicalAssessmentConfidence - Required(Confidence_Enum).

Indicate the confidence on the ecological status or potential assigned 

‘0’ = No information.
‘1’ = Low confidence.
‘2’ = Medium confidence.
‘3’ = High confidence.

The criteria used by Member States to assess confidence vary considerably, but general guidance may be: Low = no monitoring data; Medium = supporting QE data and/or limited data on one BQE; High = good data for at least one BQE and the most relevant supporting QE.
In case surfaceWaterBodyCategory is 'TeW', '0' should be selected and interpreted as 'Not applicable'.

comments (0)

swEcologicalStatusOrPotentialExpectedGoodIn2015 - Required(YesNoNotApplicable_Union_Enum).

Indicate whether it is expected that this surface water body will achieve good (or better) ecological status or potential by the end of 2015.

comments (0)

swEcologicalStatusOrPotentialExpectedAchievementDate - Conditional(GoodStatus_Enum).

If good ecological status or potential will NOT be achieved by 2015 (swEcologicalStatusOrPotentialExpectedGoodIn2015 is No), report the date by which it is expected that it will be achieved in full. The methodology of this assessment should be clearly explained in the RBMP or background documents (reference reported under classification methodologies). If good ecological status or potential will not be achieved by 2015, exemptions should be applied. Please report the date by which it is expected that good ecological status or potential will be achieved in full, not the date relating to individual exemptions. However, please note the following:


Article 4(4) exemptions relate to the extension of deadlines. According to Article 4(4)c of the WFD, postponing the achievement of objectives beyond 2027 is only possible due to natural conditions.
If Article 4(5) exemptions apply, report the date by when the less stringent objective is to be achieved. If the less stringent objective has already been achieved then select 'Less stringent objectives already achieved'. If good ecological status or potential will be achived by 2015 (swEcologicalStatusOrPotentialExpectedGoodIn2015 is Yes) this element should not be reported.


This element should not be reported if surfaceWaterBodyCategory is 'TeW' (territorial waters).

comments (0)

Class: FailingRBSP (child of SurfaceWaterBody)

  1. Please include here any comments which apply to all the schema elements in this Class.
  2. In addition to those general schema element level comments, we welcome your views on: a) whether you think this Class can be simplified;  and b) whether you think the linkages with other reporting Classes or Schemas can be improved, and how;

comments (0)

swFailingRBSP - Required (RBSP_Enum).

If the status or potential of QE 3-3 River Basin Specific Pollutants is less than good (as reported in class QualityElement, see below), select the code and name of the RBSP.

The RBSPs selected from the enumeration list must be included in the methodology schema (SWMET/SWRBSP/rbsp) where details of all RBSPs’ good-moderate EQS are reported, i.e. the RBSPs reported in this element are those that are failing their associated good-moderate EQS in this surface water body.

comments (0)

swFailingRBSPOther - Conditional.

Report CAS number and name of the RBSP failing if not on the enumeration list under swFailingRBSP.

comments (0)

 

Class: SWEcologicalExemptionType (child of SurfaceWaterBody) 

comments (0)

swEcologicalExemptionType - Required.(ExemptionType_Enum)

Report which type(s) of exemption(s) apply if good ecological status or potential is not expected to be achieved by 2015. More than one exemption may apply to a surface water body.

comments (0)

swEcologicalExemptionPressure - Conditional. (SignificantPressureType_Enum)

If any Article 4(4), Article 4(5) and/or Article 4(7) exemptions apply to this surface water body for ecological status, report the significant pressure(s) that are causing failure in order to justify the exemption(s).

comments (0)

Class: QualityElement(child of SurfaceWaterBody)

  1. Please include here any comments which apply to all the schema elements in this Class.
  2. In addition to those general schema element level comments, we welcome your views on: a) whether you think this Class can be simplified;  and b) whether you think the linkages with other reporting Classes or Schemas can be improved, and how;

comments (0)

qeCode - Required. (StatusQE_Enum)

Select in turn each of the quality elements once and provide the associated information.

comments (0)

qeStatusOrPotentialValue - Required. (QEStatusCode_Enum)

Indicate the results of the assessment of this QE for all relevant surface water categories.

comments (0)

qeMonitoringResults - Conditional. (MonitoringResults_Enum)

If the status is reported, indicate on what basis the status classification was derived:

'Monitoring': means the QE was monitored in this surface water body and the results are used as a basis for classification.

‘Grouping’: the QE was not monitored in this surface water body. Monitoring from other similar water bodies was used as a basis for classification, as described in the methodology for classification.

'Expert judgement': the QE was not monitored in this surface water body. Results from other similar water bodies were not used. The QE status is mainly based on expert judgement.

comments (0)

qeMonitoringPeriod - Conditional.

If the QE was monitored and the classification was derived from the monitoring data available, indicate the year/period of the monitoring data which was used in the classification.

comments (0)

qeGrouping - Conditional.

If no monitoring data is available for this surface water body and status has been derived through grouping by extrapolating monitoring data from other surface water bodies, indicate the codes of the surface water bodies which have been monitored and used in grouping.

For example, if the status of surface water body A has been determined by extrapolating monitoring data from surface water bodies B and C, then the euSurfaceWaterBodyCode for surface water bodies B and C should be reported in this element.

comments (0)

qeStatusOrPotentialChange - Required. (ValueQEX_StatusOrPotentialChange_Enum)

If the information is available and if there has been a change in classification since the first RBMP was reported, report that change. Otherwise, report ‘No_information’. This covers all cases in which it is not possible to identify a change between 2010 and 2016, for example, new Water Bodies, for which there is no correspondence in the 2010 reporting or new reporting (as is the case for Norway).

comments (0)

qeStatusOrPotentialComparability - Conditional. (SoPComparability_Enum)

If there has been a change in classification since the first RBMP was reported, indicate whether the reported change in status or potential is considered as being/due to the list of the EnumValues.

comments (0)

qeEcologicalExemptionType - Required. (ExemptionType_Enum)

Report which type(s) of exemption(s) apply to this surface water body and QE. More than one exemption may apply.

comments (0)