An agreement has been reached on 17th October 2006 between the European Parliament and the Council on the European Commission proposal of 2003 for a new directive
to protect ground water from pollution . This new groundwater directive stems from the Water Framework Directive of 2000 , which aims to ensure good environmental
status of all inland waters in the EU. Due to the need to set out detailed provisions, the Commission had asked for groundwater protection to be tackled separately
in a 'Daughter Directive'.
Member States will be required to monitor and assess groundwater quality on the basis of common criteria and to identify and reverse any persistent upward
trends in groundwater pollution. This new directive sets Community quality standards for groundwater with respect to the important pollutants nitrates
and pesticides and creates the framework necessary for setting any further standards in the future. It introduces a mixed regime – on one hand, compliance to
quality standards and on the other hand, measures to prevent or limit inputs of pollutants into groundwater (prevention for hazardous substances, limitation
for non-hazardous pollutants). The Member States will have to establish some of the groundwater quality standards themselves at the most appropriate level,
taking into account into account local or regional conditions (e.g. hydrogeology, nature of topsoil, interactions with associated aquatic and terrestrial
ecosystems, types of pressures etc.).
In addition to the Water Framework Directive, the groundwater directive is also related to the Nitrates Directive, the Landfill Directive and the future
Soil Framework Directive. Together, these Directives make up a framework which paves the way for improved evaluation of groundwater environmental quality
The Council will now produce a final version of the text, integrating a series of EP amendments and compromise texts. The formal adoption is expected in early
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