Table of contents

9.4. Water abstractions and exploitation of water resources

Recital 19 of the WFD reads as follows: ‘This Directive aims at maintaining and improving the aquatic environment in the Community. This purpose is primarily concerned with the quality of the waters concerned. Control of quantity is an ancillary element in securing good water quality and therefore measures on quantity, serving the objective of ensuring good quality, should also be established’.

Although the WFD is primarily focused on water quality, the management of water quantity plays a very important role through the objective of good quantitative status for groundwater and the hydromorphological component of good ecological status for surface waters. Ultimately, it is only possible to achieve the WFD Environmental Objectives of good status if sufficient quantity of water is available.

The need to integrate the management of water quality and quantity has been highlighted in several reports at EU level. Different CIS groups and networks have also been established for several years. The current CIS Work Programme includes a CIS Working Group on E-flows and an activity on Water Accounts.

Reporting of the quantitative use of water is highly relevant for the WFD although it is clear that the situation as regards quantitative pressures in the EU is very diverse. Therefore, any reporting linked to this issue has to take into account this diverse situation in order to avoid unnecessary burden for those Member States where water abstraction is not an issue now nor is likely to be one in the future.

Article 5 of the WFD requires Member States to identify the key pressures present in the RBD that are likely to cause water bodies to be of less than good status. It also requires Member States to assess the impacts on water bodies to support the determination of status. This analysis should include water quantity related considerations where relevant.

In scarcity-prone RBDs, water balances are often calculated at RBD level, e.g. as part of water resources management or development of RBMPs and drought management plans. Significant abstractions and volumes abstracted on an annual and/or seasonal temporal scale, by source and category of abstraction (see List of pressure types in Annex 1a) have frequently been reported in RBMPs in the first cycle at RBD or Sub-unit level.

In 2012, Water Directors agreed a formula for calculating the Water Exploitation Index Plus (WEI+) of a particular area, as ‘the total consumption of water divided by the renewable freshwater resources'. The WEI+ was developed by the CIS Expert Group on Water Scarcity and Droughts to provide an indication of the pressure on the water resources of a certain territory as a consequence of water withdrawals.

WEI+ = (Abstractions – Returns) / Renewable Water Resources

This information is highly relevant to reinforce the link between water quantity and water quality, and the interaction between surface and groundwater bodies.

In terms of the pressure analysis, the information generally focuses on water use which needs to be further specified into water abstraction and consumptive water use (‘Abstraction minus Returns’). However, the pressures due to consumptive use need to be put into the context of water availability since only an imbalance between consumptively used water and freshwater availability gives an indication of the real pressure on the water ecosystem.

The selection of appropriate spatial and temporal scales is important to specify the regional and seasonal differences in the assessments. For the purpose of reporting the following scales are considered:

Spatial Scale

National.

RBD or the portion of an international RBD falling within a Member State’s territory.

Temporal Scale

In some basins, water scarcity is reflected only when calculating the monthly WEI+ indicator but not necessarily the annual WEI+ indicator. It is recognised that the monthly WEI+ best represents seasonal shortages that may not be revealed in the annual scale, while the annual WEI+ may be sufficient where there is an absence of problems associated with water scarcity. However, the application of the WEI+ on a monthly basis and associated reporting requires considerable effort in data acquisition and, therefore, should only be required in those RBDs where water abstraction is a significant pressure.

In order to adapt the reporting effort to the situation in the respective RBDs, the following two-step approach is devised for reporting purposes:

  • Required for all RBDs: an indication of whether, on the basis of the pressures and impacts analysis, the annual WEI+ and/or any other available information, the Member State considers that water abstraction (understood as net consumption) is a significant pressure at the level of the (national part of the) RBD (or significant portions of it). If water abstraction is not a significant pressure in the RBD, no further reporting is required. An estimate of the RBD or national annual WEI+ may be provided if available (optional).
  • Required only for those RBDs where water abstraction is considered a significant pressure: report the annual WEI+ and the WEI+ for the worst month in which water scarcity situations could be expected in the (national part of the) RBD as well as supplementary information about the consumptive water use by source and sector, and supporting parameters.

Reporting of the WEI+ for the worst month is not required in those cases where water scarcity does not present a seasonal pattern.

An alternative reporting option is provided for those Member States where the WEI+ is not yet available and uses other indicators.

Regarding the reporting of consumptive use, it is recognised that Member States have different approaches to obtain this value from their statistics. Focus needs to be on the clarification of the share of consumptive use as this is the most relevant aspect relating to water scarcity and droughts. In addition, it should be ensured that volumes that are abstracted but returned (e.g. for cooling water and hydropower) are not included into the reported value. Estimates for the consumptive use of water can be made on the basis of percentage factors of abstraction per type of use.

If the information requested has already been reported to the EEA’s SoE reporting through the EIONET process, it does not need to be reported again under the WFD.

 

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Class WaterQuantity

  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;

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wqPressure - Required.(YesNoCode_Enum)

Indicate whether water abstraction (understood as consumptive use or net consumption) has been identified as a significant pressure at the RBD level (or in significant portions of the RBD). 

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reportedUnderSoEQuantity - Required.(YesNoCode_Enum)

Indicate whether information on water abstraction (understood as consumptive use or net consumption) has previously been reported to SoE-Water Quantity.

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weiNational - Optional.

Report the annual water exploitation index (WEI+) as a percentage at national level for the latest available reference year or as an average of the latest available 5 year period.

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weiNationalYear - Conditional.

Report the latest available reference year (in the format YYYY) or 5 year period (in the format YYYY--YYYY) used in the calculation of the annual WEI+ at national level as reported in weiNational.

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weiRBD - Conditional.

If water abstraction has been identified as a significant pressure at RBD level, report the annual WEI+ as a percentage at RBD level for the latest available reference year or as an average of the latest available 5 year period. If it is not possible to report the value of weiRBD report ‘0’ and report an alternative indicator under wqAlternativeIndicatorReference below.

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weiRBDYear - Conditional.

If water abstraction has been identified as a significant pressure at the RBD level, report the latest reference year (in the format YYYY) or 5 year period (in the format YYYY--YYYY) used in the calculation of the annual WEI+ at RBD level as reported in weiRBD.

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weiWorst - Conditional.

If water abstraction has been identified as a significant pressure at the RBD level, report the WEI+ for the worst month as a percentage at RBD level. Reporting of the WEI+ for the worst month is not required in those cases where water scarcity does not exhibit a seasonal pattern. In those cases report ‘0’.

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weiWorstMonth- Conditional.

If water abstraction has been identified as a significant pressure at the RBD level, report the worst month of the year (in the format YYYY-MM) used in the calculation of the WEI+ for the worst month at RBD level. Reporting of the WEI+ for the worst month is not required in those cases where water scarcity does not exhibit a seasonal pattern.  

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wqAlternativeIndicatorReference - Conditional.(ReferenceType)

If water abstraction has been identified as a significant pressure at the RBD level, but it is not possible to report WEI+ values at RBD level, please provide a reference to documents where alternative indicators or equivalent water balances are developed. Provide a reference or hyperlink to the relevant document and section where specific information can be found. This information must be uploaded to WISE or made available on the web.

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wqVolumeReferenceYear - Conditional.

If water abstraction has been identified as a significant pressure at the RBD level, provide the reference year (in the format YYYY) or 5 year period (in the format YYYY--YYYY) used in the estimates of water consumption or the values of non-consumptive use, imports or exports.

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wqCalculationMethodReference - Conditional.(ReferenceType)

If water abstraction has been identified as a significant pressure at the RBD level, provide refernces or hyperlinks to documents containing further details on the method(s) used in the estimation of water quantity values for each parameter. Guidance on what should be included in this document is provided in Section 9.4.3.3

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Class WQUse

  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)

wqUseType - Required.(WQUseTypeList_Enum)

For each use type that is a significant pressure, provide the information in the two elements below

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wqCalculationMethod - Required.(WQCalculationMethod_Enum)

Select the method of calculation used for the estimation of the water quantity volumes

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wqUseVolume - Conditional

Provide the annual volume for each water use that is a significant pressure in Hm3.

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Guidance on the contents of RBMPs/background documents

(Please see the full text of this sub-section in the WFD Reporting Guidance 2016 or above chapter)

Include here any comments that relate to the information contained in this sub-section of the Reporting Guidance, namely concerning information you think could/should be reported electronically and information which you believe should not be included in the River Basin Management Plans or background documents.

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