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Water and Life Water is vital, in its quality, quantity, flow and location, to meet the needs of ecosystems.

These ecosystems include us- people. People cannot be divorced from the water environment. Many of our activities, both on land and in water, impact on water. They affect its flow, its quality, its levels and its ability to support life. This life includes tremendous biodiversity water and wetlands provide some of the most important habitats on earth. Equally, water and water related ecosystems such as wetlands, provide us with essential services from potable water, water for agriculture, energy, flood management, recreation opportunities, filtering and waste services, fisheries and tourism. Water and floodplain problems Our management of water is becoming increasingly complex. Past practices have resulted in the disconnection of rivers from floodplains with a resultant loss in biodiversity and a requirement for complex, expensive and sometimes damaging flood defense schemes. Many of our current demands are incompatible with each other. For example, we want functioning floodplains for flood management and important biodiversity, but people want to live by rivers and we need space to build houses to account for changing demographics. Intensive agricultural practices can have detrimental impacts on water quality, quantity, and levels that damage aquatic habitats. Water companies and authorities, and thus consumers and taxpayers, must pay to clean up water, that a subsidy or bad practice has polluted. In many countries, the bureaucracy around water management is complex and convoluted. Different aspects of water are managed separately for example, agriculture, land use planning, water abstraction, water quality, flood management, drought management, and portable water may all be managed in different ways with conflicting objectives and different spatial and temporal scales. The Water Framework Directive and WUF The WUF project addressed some of these aspects by focusing on the wise of floodplains in six case study catchments across France, Ireland, Scotland and England. It aimed to show how the wise use of floodplains could contribute to the sustainable management of water within river basins and catchments. It did this largely in the context of the EC Water Framework Directive a new directive that puts ecology at the heart of water management in an integrated way. The Directive requires Member States to address all water problems that affect water dependant ecology and thus all water types including groundwater, surface waters (eg rivers, lakes and smaller water bodies), and coastal waters. Wetlands are an important component of the Directive and must be taken into consideration in a number of different ways. Member States must characterise river basins, that is identify the water resource in each basin and assess its status. They must identify the pressures and impacts that affect water in a detrimental way. They must then set objectives for each water body, monitor these water bodies and provide a programme of measures that will restore or prevent deterioration of them depending on the objectives that are set. The main aim of this process is to achieve good status for all water bodies subject to some exceptions. This work is undertaken through a river basin management plan. Very importantly, Member States have a duty to actively involve interested members of the public during this planning process. The Directive thus recognises that water is heritage that must be treated as such, that water is everybodys business, and that decisions that affect water should not be taken by governments or scientists alone. A driving force behind the WUF project was the growing realisation that many Member States would have problems implementing the Water Framework Directive, particularly in the context of managing floodplains more wisely. The perceived problems related to a lack of techniques for undertaking some of the required activities (eg, appraisal of floodplain management options, engaging local communities), and frustration in some countries by key players that the policy context was working against, rather than for

sustainable floodplain management. The WUF was also a response to the problems associated with the unwise use of floodplains catastrophic flood damage to people and property, the loss of floodplain wetlands, agricultural subsides exacerbating problems, eutrophication and the heavy modification of river systems. How to use the WUF results The WUF project was ambitious in its scope. This means that aspects of the results will be interesting for different agencies and sectors of the communities. The results are framed at different levels too. There are major technical reports that provide all the analysis for the major findings in four themes. There are also guidance notes that provide a brief explanation of the four themes, and of the 4 Area Case Studies. Where should you start and what should you read? You might simply be interested in how to run a public participation event in a local village for a specific water issue. For this you should read the guidance note on participatory processes and then check through the technical report on the same theme. Another organisation may wish to do some hydrological modelling but not involve the public and would therefore only be interested in the hydrological result for the WUF the guidance note and the technical report. A community leader might be interested to learn about what happened in the Erne Catchment in Ireland during the WUF project and would simply refer to the Erne Guidance Note. A national decision maker would be interested in the results from the policy analysis - which show the top ten policy messages that should be addressed and would refer to the guidance note and the technical report. If you are interested in particular issues or case study catchments then you should go straight to the following sections