Potential Implications of the EU Water Framework Directive in Sweden


Potential Implications of the EU Water Framework Directive in Sweden: A comparison of the Swedish municipalities’ current water planning regime with the requirements of the EU’s new Water Framework Directive

Beatrice Hedelin

2005

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European Journal of Spatial Development http://www.nordregio.se/EJSD/-ISSN 1650-9544-Refereed Articles May 2005 no 14
Potential Implications of the EU Water Framework
Directive in Sweden
A comparison of the Swedish municipalities’ current water planning regime with the
requirements of the EU’s new Water Framework Directive
Beatrice Hedelin
Contact details of the author:
Beatrice Hedelin, Division for Engineering Sciences, Physics and Mathematics, Karlstad
University, Sweden.
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Summary
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is currently being implemented throughout
Europe. As the Directive is likely to introduce major changes to the way in which
water is managed in Sweden, this study aims to highlight some of the potential implications
of its implementation. The requests of the WFD are compared with the current
Swedish municipal system for water planning. Both organisationally and in terms of
actual content the current study highlights significant differences in both approach and
outcomes. The organisational changes envisaged will bring about a situation where, in
essence, two parallel water management planning systems exist. This however implies
that there will be significant problems ahead in terms of accountability and legitimacy,
as the formal relationship between these separate systems is not clear, while the
new system lacks clear linkages to the representative democratic model. The identified
differences in terms of content however imply a more effective approach to water
management and the potential for a more informed planning process. In order to make
this arrangement work, forms of effective co-operation between the municipalities and
the Water Authorities, as well as for the involvement of the general public and other
concerned interests, need to be developed.
Key Words
Water Framework Directive, National implications, Water planning, Municipal planning,
Master plan.
Introduction
A new and extensive system of environmental legislation on water resources management
is currently being implemented throughout Europe. The EC Water Framework
Directive (EU 2000) came into force in December 2000 and should now have
been incorporated into national legislation. Having the character of a framework, the
Directive (hereafter referred to as the WFD) connects a number of existing directives
for different aspects of water conservation and protection. The aim of the WFD is to
make the management of European water resources more efficient and enforceable,
and to achieve ‘good water status’ for all water.
The WFD also aims to create new tools for sustainable water use. A number of the
ideas contained within the WFD can be seen to support this goal. Perhaps the most
often expounded idea in this context is the promotion of a more comprehensive view
on water management. This is to be achieved by prescribing the river basin to be the
geographical and administrative basis for water management. Within a river basin, or
‘river basin district’, all rivers, lakes, ground waters, coastal and transitional waters,
will be handled. Furthermore, all factors affecting water quality, quantity and ecology
are handled, as well as all activities affected by water. Another feature of the WFD,
which also has the potential to promote a comprehensive view, is the emphasis on
public consultation. The Directive does not prescribe how the process should be carried
out, but instead outlines a consultation process that starts three years before the
final version of the management plan for the river basin district is set. Finally, the
combined approach to pollution control also contributes to the adoption of this more
comprehensive view. Both the Emission Limit Value and the Water Quality Objective
approach should be applied, which will make it easier to handle both point and diffuse
sources of pollution1. The approach that gives the most stringent limit value should be
chosen. This idea is in line with the precautionary principle, which is another important
principle of sustainable development.
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A further principle of sustainable development, the polluter pays principle, is also
emphasised in the WFD. As such, the costs of water services, protection and restoration
should fall on the main users of water (industry, agriculture and households).
Economic incentives for sustainable water use should also be created. The difficulties
that may follow from high prices should be taken into account, particularly with respect
to the provision of drinking water. However, the WFD allows Member States to
disregard the requirement of letting the users cover all costs provided that this does
not compromise the purposes of the Directive, or the possibility of achieving the its
objectives. The use of other funding methods is also permitted.
In order to make these ideas operational, the WFD gives detailed instructions for several
tasks to be carried out. In short, the main tasks include an economic analysis of
the river basin district as well as of its natural characteristics and of the human pressures
acting on its water. Based on this analysis, environmental objectives should be
defined for each water body and a Programme of Measures, including those needed to
attain the objectives, should be derived. A thorough description of the monitoring that
should be done is also given. Finally, for each river basin district a River Basin Management
Plan (RBMP) should be derived, in which the work is documented. The plan
also serves as the reporting mechanism to the commission while fulfilling the communication
functions with concerned parties and with the general public. The work is
cyclical on a six years basis, with the first programme of measures being set before
the end of 2009, after which it will be revised in 2015 and 2021 etc. Even though the
general rule is that these environmental objectives should be attained by 2015, the
WFD does however provide for the possibility that, under certain circumstances, they
be postponed.
Looking at the extensiveness of the WFD, a basic need remains to consider its possible
implications. The Directive’s potential general implications, as well as the implications
for the UK planning system in particular, are discussed by Howe and White
(2002 and 2003). The significance of the changes that the WFD is likely to give rise to
across the various Member States will however vary, depending on their former planning
systems. The French model for example, provides the basis for the WFD and
thus resembles that system (Gustafsson 1989a and Gustafsson 2000), while the Swedish
water management strategy has been described as being fundamentally opposed to
the French (Gustafsson 1989b). While the French and accordingly the WFD model
use both economic incentives and regulatory steering instruments, the Swedish strategy
is based almost solely on regulatory instruments. Furthermore, water administrations
in Sweden are spread over different institutions at different levels. Central institutions
are generally responsible for permits; regional governmental institutions and
municipalities manage the environmental supervision, while the municipalities are
responsible for the long-term land and water planning, through their master plans.
Finally, as long-term water planning is carried out at the municipal level in Sweden,
the natural hydrological boundaries are not used as a base for water management
(Gustafsson 1994). These aspects all suggest that large changes will occur as a result
of the implementation of the WFD in Sweden. Furthermore, the municipalities have
been criticised for not dealing with water issues in a satisfactory way in their physical
planning (Boverket 1994, Gunnarson and Malmqvist 1996, Gullstrand et al. 2003).
Even though the handling of water issues has improved in more recent plans (Gullstrand
et al. 2003, Boverket 2004), this also points at the direction of large changes, as
the WFD aims to give water issues a higher priority in planning. Other studies, which
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directly concern the implications of the implementation of the WFD in Sweden, emphasise
the fact that it will be problematic to continue with a situation where two parallel
planning systems for water exist (see Boverket 2004 and Emmelin and Lerman
2004). As a result then, many uncertainties arise, mainly concerning the distribution
of responsibilities among the many parties involved and the relationship between the
different plans for water management (ibid.). Further, the implementation of the WFD
into national environmental legislation has increased the complexity of the legislation,
which may also prove to be a further obstacle to efficient management (Emmelin and
Lerman 2004). As such then, these studies point towards the fact that major changes
lie ahead, suggesting that a significant level of uncertainty is connected to the implementation
of the WFD in Sweden.
Aim and Scope
Even though it is difficult at this early stage to appreciate the real implications of the
WFD in Sweden, it is possible to indicate some of the potential implications by comparing
the Directive with the current (former) system for water planning in Sweden.
The aim of this study is to identify the differences between the two systems. The focus
here will thus be on organisational differences and on differences in content. Furthermore,
the study will focus on the municipal planning system, which oversees the
current system for water planning in Sweden.
Methods
As already noted, water administrations are spread among a number of organisations
and across many different levels in Sweden. The main actors in respect of long-term
water planning are however the municipalities, and they are therefore chosen as the
point of departure for this study. In order to identify changes related to the implementation
of the WFD, comparisons are made between the EU Directive (EU 2000) and
the domestic system for municipal physical planning, regulated by the Planning and
Building Act (SFS 1987:10).
Organisational Differences
In order to identify the organisational differences, the prescriptions of the legislative
instruments themselves are used. The WFD has been translated into Swedish legislation.
The Regulation on the administration of the quality of the water environment
(SFS 2004:660) provides the most detailed instructions for the work implied by the
Directive. This regulation, together with the Directive itself, is used in the identification
of the organisational differences (by comparing it to the Planning and Building
Act).
Differences in Content
In order to identify the differences in content between the two approaches it is useful
to begin by comparing the prescriptions of the WFD with the actual outcome of the
Planning and Building Act. This is done by comparing the content of a River Basin
Management Plan (RBMP), as prescribed by the Directive, with the content of existing
municipal plans. The most relevant tool for municipal water planning is the master
plan, so the study is based on these plans. The master plan is mandatory it covers the
whole municipal territory and controls the other tools in the physical planning system.
The aim of the master plan is threefold: to describe the vision of the development of
the municipality, to guide municipal and other authorities decisions concerning the
use of land and water, and to be a tool of communication between the local and naEuropean
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tional authorities with regard to their general interests (Boverket 1996). The method
for comparing the master plans with the prescribed content of a RBMP is described in
brief below. For a more detailed description, see Hedelin and Gustafsson (2003).
The municipalities situated around the largest lake in Sweden, Lake Vänern, were
selected to provide the empirical basis for the study. This necessitated that fourteen
master plans be analysed. The plans are for long-term water and land use planning,
and most of those studied were from the beginning of the 1990s. The plans were read
and assessed against the prescribed content of a RBMP, which is described in Appendix
7 of the Directive. The relevant areas of content (hereafter called AOC) are presented
in Table 1.
Table 1. Areas of content (AOC) of the future River Basin Management Plans relevant for studying
changes in content due to the implementation of the WFD. The content of the RBMP is prescribed in
Appendix 7 of the Directive.
Area of content
(AOC)
Description of the prescribed content
A General description of River Basin District, according to article 5
– Surface water: (maps of location of boundaries; eco-regions and surface
water types; reference conditions for different water types)
– Ground water: (maps of locations and boundaries)
B Summary of significant pressures and impacts of human activity
– Point and diffuse sources of pollution; impacts on water quantity and
pressures/impacts from other types of human activity
C Identification of protected areas, according to article 6
D Maps of monitoring networks and monitoring results
– Ecological and chemical status for surface water
– Chemical and quantitative status of groundwater
– Status of protected areas
E Environmental objectives including extensions and derogations, according to
article 4.
F Summary of an economic analysis of water use, according to article 5
G Summary of programme of measures, according to article 11
H Summary of public information and consultation as well as their results
For each master plan, an assessment of the similarities between the content of the
plans and of the RBMP were made for each AOC. A four-graded scale (0, 1, 2, 3) was
used to describe the degree of accordance. High scores mean high similarities between
the plans, while low grades mean low or no similarity between plans (see Table 2).
For all grades, assessments are made of how the areas of content will be treated in
future river basin plans.
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Table 2. The scoring system describing the degree of accordance between the master plans and the
future River Basin Management Plans.
Results
Here the comparison of the relevant legal frameworks (for the organisational differences)
and the comparison between future RBMP and the selected municipal master
plans (for the differences in content) are presented. Differences between current and
future systems of water planning are thereby identified and described.
Organisational Differences
The current system for water planning in Sweden is mainly based on the 290 municipalities,
which represent the local level of the national administrative organisation.
Since 1987 the responsibility for planning of land and water has rested on the municipalities,
regulated by the Building and Planning Act (SFS 1987:10). The overall aim
of the Act is to promote wise use of both land and water. Through different tools
(plans, regulations and permits) the municipalities steer the use of land and water
within their administrative boundaries. Thus, planning of land and water are currently
integrated into one system. The municipalities have a far-reaching formal mandate to
control land use, though mechanisms remain for the state to exert influence to some
extent. Regional authorities (County administrative boards) represent the state in matters
of national interest such as general interests, environmental and risk issues. The
Building and Planning Act has linkages to the Environmental Code (SFS 1998:108),
which among other things regulates environmental issues connected to water.
In the WFD, the organisational arrangements for water administration are to be found
in Article 3. In short, it says that the geographical boundaries for administration
should be based on river basin boundaries. Several small river basins can be combined
to form River Basin Districts. The regulations of the WFD should be applied in each
District. Furthermore, a Competent Authority responsible for putting the regulations
into practice should be appointed for each District. The application of these prescriptions
in Sweden has resulted in the formation of five River Basin Districts, each draining
into one of the major sea basins around Sweden. The Districts are prescribed in
the regulation on the administration of the quality of the water environment (SFS
2004:660). Five Competent Authorities were accordingly appointed, and are represented
by one of the County administrative boards in each District. These authorities
are called the Water authorities.
At this as yet still early period in terms of implementation (the Water authorities are
just beginning to form) three important organisational changes can be identified based
on the summarised regulations. The most obvious difference is the change of geographical
planning unit from the municipal boundaries to the boundaries of the Water
Basin Districts. As the municipal borders are not related to hydrological boundaries,
Score (0-3) General meaning
0 The AOC of the river basin plan is not touched on at all in the master
plan
1 The AOC of the river basin plan is only briefly touched on
2 The AOC of the river basin plan is described in the master plan, but not
fully covered.
3 The AOC of the river basin plan can be seen as fully covered in the
master plan
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the change represents a shift from a purely administrative to a more natural regional
basis for water planning. Secondly, the 290 geographical units for water planning
have been reduced to five. This entails a tremendous change in scale, with water planning
taken away from the very local level and introduced to a regional level based on
large regions. It should also be noted here that the proposal (SOU 2002:105) that preceded
the translation of the WFD into national legislation suggested a complementary
organisational level of about 100 sub-catchments. The role that these sub-catchments
will have in future planning is however at present far from clear. As they are not mentioned
in the legal texts however it is clear that they will not appointed with any formal
responsibility. Thirdly, instead of an integrated approach to the planning of land
and water these issues are now to be handled separately. The municipalities will still
have an important role to play in planning issues relating to land and water within
their territories, but the new water planning system will limit their formal power substantially.
Water planning will be performed separately on a regional level influencing
the municipal physical planning from above.
Differences in Content
The results of the comparison of content between future River Basin Management
Plans and the studied master plans are presented in Figure 1 below. The highest score
possible is 24, which represents full coverage of the content of the future RBMP as
prescribed in the WFD. The highest score that is obtained among the studied master
plans is 12, while most of the plans actually scored less than 8.
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
A B C D E F G H
Area of content
(a.o.c.)
0
1
2
3
Figure 1. Degree of similarity between the prescribed content of a River Basin Management Plan and
the studied municipal master plans. High frequencies for low scores mean low similarity between the
RBMP and the master plan. See Table 1 for description of the AOC. See Table 2 for an explanation of
the scoring system.
Exactly how the different AOC are represented in the master plans varies. The AOC
where most similarities are to be found is the identification of protected areas (C). In
most master plans protected areas are described to a high or to a full extent compared
to what can be expected in the future RBMP. Other areas are touched on briefly, as
for example the general description of the district (A), the summary of significant
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pressures and impacts from human activity (B), the summary of the Programme of
measures (G) and the summary of public consultation (H). The areas monitoring (D),
environmental objectives (E) and economic analysis (F) are however only touched
upon very briefly if at all in the municipal master plans.
For some of the AOC large variations can be seen between the municipalities. This is
the case in respect of general description of the district (A) and in terms of the identification
of protected areas (C). Other AOC are treated to the same or similar extent
among the municipalities. These areas are the economic analysis of water use (F) and
the summary of the Programme of measures (G). See Hedelin and Gustafsson (2003)
for a presentation of the individual municipality scores.
The results as summarised in Figure 1 provide an overview of the identified differences
in content. However, in order to better understand the following changes, a
more detailed description of the differences for each AOC is necessary. Starting with
the description of the River Basin District (represented by the municipal territory in
the case of master plans), the municipalities generally include a map in the plan,
where the location and boundaries of surface water can be seen. The quality of the
map varies however, and for some municipalities the map is the only description of
the territory that is provided. In some cases the location of used groundwater aquifers
are shown, while on occasion some of the characteristics of a number of water bodies
are presented. Generally though, the description is not undertaken in a systematic or
comprehensive way. No classification of water is made, reference conditions are not
given and the concept of eco-regions is not used.
With respect to pressures and impacts from human activity, all municipalities provide
maps showing land use. The information on the maps varies, from those highlighting
only roads, forest and agriculture to those that show the location of housing areas,
industries, water treatment works, mining activities, landfills, shooting-ranges and
stocks of animals. In many cases potential impacts from different kinds of human activities
are described, but whether the activity has in reality caused any impact is seldom
noted. In rare cases real impacts are however described. The most obvious shortcoming
of the master plans is the lack of connections between human activities and
the pressures they actually cause or have caused. In order to propose adequate measures
it is of course essential to be aware of these connections. In the WFD it is
stressed from the outset that the impact on water status from human pressures must be
assessed. It is also proposed that modelling techniques should be used for the assessment.
The next AOC – identification of protected areas – is generally covered to a large extent
in the master plans. One important type of area however that in most cases is not
mentioned as being protected is that of protected areas for drinking water supply.
More work on defining such areas will therefore have to be done. In addition to this,
new arrangements in respect of identifying protected areas are needed in order to
cover the AOC fully. In contrast to this, in most cases the issue of monitoring is not
mentioned at all in the master plans. Significant work therefore seems to be needed
here. The reason for this may be that most of the monitoring undertaken in Sweden is
not handled by the municipalities themselves2. Therefore, one could assume that much
of the monitoring work is already being done, even though it is not indicated as such
in the municipal master plans.
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The AOC in respect of environmental objectives is also poorly treated in the master
plans, varying from merely blandly stating that the municipality aims to develop in a
‘sustainable manner’, to explaining that the municipality is prioritising the protection
of biodiversity and ecologically sensitive areas, or that it must economise in terms of
the overuse of natural assets etc. These kinds of goals do not specifically concern water.
In a few rare cases objectives more specifically relating to water are however expressed,
such as, ‘The large scale distribution and waste water treatment systems
should be sustainable.’ In some master plans one or more specific goals for specific
water bodies are stated. The current situation is thus far from what is prescribed in the
WFD, where the objective ‘good status’ (or exceptions thereof) should be defined
specifically for each water body.
While the AOC of environmental objectives is treated rather poorly, the AOC in respect
of economic analysis is totally absent. Not a single line concerning the water
economy is written in any of the studied master plans. Significant work therefore remains
to be done here in order to meet the requirements of the WFD.
Do the master plans give any guidance in respect of the Programme of measures? The
aim of the master plan is to provide guidance for decisions concerning the use of land
and water in the municipality. Master plans are not legally binding as such, what is
stated are recommendations. These recommendations can lead to future measures or
other decisions that affect water. In this study, such ‘recommendations’ are treated as
a kind of measure, which although diffuse, allow us to give all municipalities the
grade 1 on this AOC. In addition to the recommendations, another type of statement is
sometimes made, that can also be interpreted as a measure. For example, statements
such as: one should act to decrease the growth of weed in the shallow bays; or, one
should work to increase the breeding possibilities for a certain kind of fish in a specific
river. Throughout however, real measures are rarely stated in the studied master
plans. In some cases, references are made to other documents, environmental programmes
etc., where measures are said to be presented. Master plans do not however
seem to be regarded as a proper forum for the presentation of measures.
As regards the area of public consultation and information, the studied responses vary
from simply not mentioning the process or its outcome at all, to describing the process
in depth and presenting the different opinions that came up, and moreover, how these
were handled. Nevertheless, the municipalities that included such information did not
however obtain full grade in this area, the reason being that the WFD prescribes a
process of public consultation that starts long before the final version of the RBMP is
finished, and the importance of mutual understanding in respect of the proposed
measures is very much stressed. It must therefore be assumed that in future, public
consultation processes are to be much more thorough as compared to the best attempts
at consultation in today’s planning processes.
Discussion
Based on the identified differences between the current (former) and the evolving
system for water management some potential implications of the implementation of
the WFD in Sweden are discussed in brief below.
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Parallel planning systems and models for democracy
As shown here and as pointed out by others (see Boverket 2004 and Emmelin and
Lerman 2004), a situation in which two parallel planning systems for water coexist
will be created due to the coming changes in respect of the implementation of the
WFD in Sweden. The municipalities will continue to plan for the use of water resources
within their territories, alongside the new EU induced system for water management.
These systems are mainly regulated by two separate legal frameworks: the
municipal planning system by the Building and Planning Act, and the new system for
water planning by the Environmental Code (which has been adjusted to the WFD
regulations). One can therefore expect the new planning system to have far reaching
consequences for the current municipal physical planning, limiting as such municipal
planning sovereignty, while the Water Authorities will have the power to decide on
management plans that will have significant impacts on the municipal land use planning.
The exact relationship between the two systems however remains unclear. According
to the National Board of Housing and Planning (Boverket), which is responsible
for the national implementation of the Building and Planning Act, there is no
legal support for the responsibility of the municipalities to implement the Programme
of Measures taken by the Water Authorities (Boverket 2004). The situation is thus
unclear, and as emphasised by Boverket, there are major uncertainties about how the
parallel systems should work together. (For a thorough survey of the various uncertainties
relating to the implementation of the WFD, see Emmelin and Lerman (2004)).
In order to handle this practically however, Boverket argues that better procedures for
communication and co-operation between the municipalities and the Water Authorities
have to be created (Boverket 2004).
Connected to the murky nature of the relationship between the two planning systems
are the continuing uncertainties relating to the authority and the responsibilities of the
various organisations involved in water management (Emmelin and Lerman 2004).
This, and the lack of clear linkages to the representative democratic system, is identified
as a major obstacle for ‘good governance’ by Lundqvist (2004) who has studied
the whole organisational system proposed in respect of implementing the WFD in
Sweden3. He characterises ‘Good governance’ as simultaneously satisfying the core
values of effectiveness, participation and legitimacy. The municipalities are well embedded
within the representative democratic system while the new Water Authorities
will not be run by representatives elected by the demos’ of the River Basin Districts.
(The demos here is those who are concerned by an issue and whose voices should
therefore influence the outcome of a decision). Stemming from the “top-down” character
of the Directive, the multi-level governance structure created for the implementation
of the WFD prioritises effectiveness over legitimacy, which runs counter to the
Swedish political and administrative culture (ibid.).
Putting the implementation of the WFD into a larger perspective, problems relating to
questions of democracy and legitimacy are common in cases where EU policy has
major effects on Member States’ national politics (see for example Heinelt 2002,
Schmidt 2002, Elander 2002). It is clear from this discussion that the WFD is merely
one example of the democratic difficulties encountered when attempting to implement
EU legislation in individual national legislative systems. National priorities and plans,
which are based on national representative democratic systems, may have to change to
accommodate EU policy. The EU strategy for implementation often includes different
kinds of partnership models, which are seldom co-ordinated with those of the Member
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States (Elander 2002). Furthermore, in the EU, the influence of the private citizen, and
thus the democratic model, is based on ‘voice’ instead of ‘vote’ as in the representative
model (Heinelt 2002). Thus, a precondition for the implementation of EUdirectives
to be ‘democratic’ is that people see themselves as political beings, taking
active responsibility and engaging politically (ibid.). As the representative system
demands far less of the demos in terms of active political participation, the question is,
how can a civic culture that matches the EU model be created? This is a particularly
valid question in connection to water planning in Sweden, which has been accused of
lacking procedures for public participation (Gullstrand et al. 2003). As such, formal
procedures for participation will have to be developed and put into practice. Key
questions waiting to be handled then are – Who should participate? –How can accountability
be created? How should the participatory processes be shaped? Additionally,
in order to make the democratic system work as a whole, the participatory decision-
making processes must have a clear relationship to the representative democratic
system (Allmendinger 2002 pp.207). Such a relationship is of course still waiting to
be established in the case of the WFD.
The content of water management
As illustrated by the comparison of municipal master plans and future River Basin
Management Plans, public consultation or participation can be expected to increase as
a result of the WFD (H). Looking at this in the context of the potential decline in legitimacy
that the implementation of the Directive entails, this is therefore a positive
sign. Participation has long been stressed as a key feature for creating commitment
and acceptance in connection to water management (see for example Stout 1998 and
World Water Council 2000). A further potential implication of increased consultation
and participation in this respect is connected to the knowledge and different perspectives
held by the general public and the other interests that are involved in the planning
process. It is well documented that people living in a local environment possess
valuable knowledge about the management of their local ecosystem (see for example
Olsson and Folke 2001). In addition, different persons or actors represent different
value orientations or perspectives, which can be related to water management (Hemmati
2002, Söderbaum 2003). Increased participation thus increases the chances of
integrating such knowledge and perspectives into planning, which may result in more
informed decision-making.
Another identified change relating to the implementation of the WFD is the economic
analysis of water in each District (F). Such analysis has not been performed to any
extent previously, and thus represents a new issue in Swedish water management. One
reason for this is the Swedish tradition of environmental management, where economic
incentives are seldom used to reach environmental objectives (Gustafsson
1989b). Moreover, there is no tradition of full cost recovery of water provision in
Sweden, for either the services or the environmental costs of provision and pollution.
One reason for the attitude to water pricing then is probably that water is not a limited
resource in Sweden. It is more politically acceptable to have stringent emission limits
than to charge for water use and extraction. Thus, Sweden will probably take the opportunity
given in article 9, to not use the principle to its full extent. Nevertheless,
irrespective of how Sweden chooses to use the economic analysis contained therein, it
will provide new information and knowledge for the planning process. In this way,
two of the identified changes caused by the WFD, namely, increased participation
and the economic analysis imply that the potential for making informed water manEuropean
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agement decisions will increase. Connected to the increase in information in respect
of the water management, the study of master plans also showed that monitoring
would increase significantly as a consequence of the Directive (D). This would mean
a tremendous increase in the amount of information gathered. In addition, although
monitoring falls out of the scope of the municipal master plans it is already performed
to a large extent by organisations such as the River basin entities among others. It can
thus be expected that the municipalities already use such information (at least it
should be available for them).
Furthermore, other differences in content that should be mentioned here include the
definition of an environmental objective for each water body (E) and the development
of Programmes of measures (G). Through this approach the connections between objectives
and how they should be practically reached are made much clearer as compared
to what has previously prevailed. As long as the defined objectives are not inconsistent
with sustainable development, one might therefore expect this to have positive
implications for effective sustainable water management. This is in line with the
view of the Directive in terms of placing ‘effectiveness’ higher on the agenda.
Integrated water management?
Perhaps the most important question to discuss is whether the implementation of the
WFD will promote its own objectives. As was noted in the introduction, sustainable
water use is an overall aim of the Directive, with the idea being to obtain a comprehensive
or holistic approach to water management. So then is the implementation of
the Directive in Sweden currently contributing to integrated water management?
Based on the identified changes following the implementation of the Directive both
positive and negative indications in respect of integration can be found.
As discussed above, increased participation and the introduction of an economic
analysis both have the potential to contribute to a more informed planning process.
This implies an increased potential as regards integration, which needs to be obtained
across the dimensions of knowledge, values and actors (Jepson 2001). Increased participation
enhances the potential for integration across all three dimensions, as the
engagement of diverse actors in the planning process can contribute towards the recognition
of new realms of knowledge perspectives or values. In addition, the economic
analysis can contribute to producing integration across knowledge, as it will
bring new information to the process.
The identified organisational changes point in different directions, both towards an
increasing and towards a decreasing potential for integration. The change in geographical
planning unit from a purely administrative one such as the municipal territory
to a more natural unit such as the River Basin District, can also be seen to imply
an increased potential for integration. The hydrological system that ties together different
water related activities within the river basin is handled as a whole and the connections
between the sources of pollution and their recipients are for example not broken.
From a natural or water management perspective this change clearly increases
the chances of achieving an integrated and thus sustainable management of resources
(Barrow 1998). On the other hand, the change also implies a divide between land and
water planning, as pointed out by the national Board of Housing and Planning
(Boverket 2004). In the new organisational order, water management is lifted out of
the former system where land and water are treated together in municipal physical
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planning. One could still argue that the change is not a drawback, assuming that the
water management induced by the WFD is comprehensive in character and connections
between land and water will still be made. But as most of the development of the
physical environment is steered by the municipalities, it would still be difficult to argue
that the change is not ‘disintegrative’ in term of the management of land and water.
The physical, chemical and ecological water quality is closely related to land use
through the hydrological system, this is why the effective management of water must
include the management of the surrounding landscape. To compensate for this, new
and workable forms of co-operation between the Water Authorities and the municipalities
within their River Basin Districts are vital.
Finally then, what does the change from a local to a supra- regional level of planning
mean for the possibilities of integrated water management? Also this change has implications
that point in opposite directions. Firstly, including all lakes, wetlands,
ground waters, rivers and streams within a large river basin represents a holistic approach
since the hydrological system is treated as a whole, including its different subsystems
or sub-river basins. Wide system limits should increase the possibilities to
include more of the important factors that affect the system, which is a precondition
for integration. But increasing the scale also brings with it other implications. Integrating
local knowledge of local environment might become an increasingly difficult
task in the planning process if the scale is too large. And as an understanding of the
processes and activities at both the local and the regional scales is necessary for a
comprehensive view of the system to be managed (Cash and Moser 2000), increasing
the scale will not be enough to ensure an integrated approach. As the answer is to link
these scales (ibid., Olsson and Folke 2001), again the solution is to establish robust
forms of co-operation between the concerned authorities. The ways in which the general
public and other concerned actors can be more fully included in the planning
process are also dependent on the management scale. As the scale increases as a result
of the implementation of the WFD, forms of participation adapted to the larger scale
must be used. This is essential in view of the necessity for participation to compensate
for the potential decrease in legitimacy implied by the actual implementation of the
Directive.
Conclusions
Three main organisational differences were identified on comparing the current (former)
system for municipal water planning with the system that is currently under implementation.
Firstly, the geographical borders constituting the basis for planning will
be shifted from the municipal territory to River Basin Districts. The change represents
a shift from a purely administrative to a more natural basis for water planning, in respect
of river basins. Secondly, the change of geographical borders also brings a dramatic
increase in management scale, from about three hundred units to five regions.
Lastly, there is a change in approach from handling both water and land within the
same planning system to handling issues of water separately. In the context of these
changes then it is plain that a situation will arise where we have two parallel planning
systems for water management. The formal relationship between each system is remains
however unclear. This implies that problems of accountability and legitimacy
will result, as the new approach lacks clear linkages to the representative democratic
system.
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Furthermore, in terms of content the study indicates that the WFD may actually entail
significant changes to how water is managed in Sweden. Detailed definitions of objectives
for all waters and a related Programme of measures are new features, which do
imply a more effective approach to water planning. In addition, another new issue is
the economic analysis prescribed by the Directive. Water Economics as such seem to
have been rather overlooked until now. The economic analysis together with increased
public participation, which is also identified as a significant change, may contribute
to a more informed planning process concerning knowledge and perspectives.
The WFD aims at sustainable water management through the adoption of an integrated
approach. There are potentials for increased integration due to the implementation
of the Directive in Sweden, but this requires that forms of effective co-operation
between the municipalities and the Water Authorities be developed, in addition to
similarly effective cooperative models for the involvement of the general public and
other concerned interests. This is necessary in order to take relevant knowledge and
perspectives into account and to compensate for the decline in legitimacy implied by
the weakening of the linkage to the representative democratic system.
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Notes
1 Peter Chave (2001) has a clear explanation of the approaches, summarised as follows: The “Emission
Limit Value” approach is the one most commonly used, and is well suited for point sources of pollution.
Here, maximum limits for discharges are set depending on the industry involved and the constituents
of the effluent. In the alternative “Water Quality Objective” approach emission limits are set depending
on the receiving water body. A limit is set to the quantity that allows the recipient to remain
within its quality objective concentration.
2 Much of this work in Sweden is being done by so called river basin entities (Gustafsson 1994). These
are associations, which take interest in bigger lakes or river systems. The members represent different
interest groups such as fishing organisations and the representatives of different industries, using the
water as recipients or for their production, i.e. the municipalities, sailing associations etc.
3 The only part of the proposal (SOU 2002:105) that has been formally undertaken is the creation of
five River Basin Districts and five corresponding Water Authorities.

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