Europe and Central Asia
5 Dec 2018

Water - You don't know what you've got till it's gone

By Christopher Sands

Many European governments want to weaken the EU’s water protection law. We must stop this from happening! YOU can tell the European Commission to #ProtectWater by signing your name in the form below.

The forces seeking to weaken the hard-fought-for laws we have in place to protect us never cease their attempts to increase their unbridled profits at our expense. It feels like yesterday that with our partners we mobilized hundreds of thousands of citizens to protect the EU’s landmark nature protection laws, the Birds & Habitats Directives (BHD), from the depredations of the moneyed crowd wishing ever greater freedoms to plunder our environment for their pocketbooks.

In addition to the effective BHD, the EU also has a very effective law to protect our freshwater resources called the Water Framework Directive (WFD) which, when properly enforced, (isn’t that always the challenge!) is quite effective. And in a re-run of the attempted undermining of the BHD, many forces are at work to suggest that these good laws are not fit-for-purpose and need “revision”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Commission is currently carrying out a public consultation which is the citizen’s only chance to feed into the political process and demand that these critical rules remain unmolested by the rapacious commercial interests keen for a free hand with our precious water.

We have prepared the response that will best ensure that the law is kept safe. To send this to the Commission on your behalf, please fill in your details in the form below and click ACT NOW.

BirdLife’s particular focus during this campaign is to highlight the inextricable link between protecting our water and reforming the CAP-enabled industrial and intensive agriculture which is the largest destroyer of clean water. The monocultures favored by agro-industry also consume vast quantities of water disproportionately depriving communities and citizens of equitable and sustainable water for the future.

There are unfortunately many examples of this pernicious link between unsustainable industrial and intensive agriculture and the health of our waters. Off the Baltic coasts of countries like Germany, a giant ‘dead zone’ has been created in the Baltic Sea due to huge levels of nutrient runoff from industrial farming. Every year, more than 825,000 tonnes of nitrogen is pumped from farm to coast via heavily polluted rivers.  In Sicily important wetlands such as the Pantano Bruno and Pantano Auruca are dried up by the voracious water thirst of the numerous greenhouses used to grow famous Pachino tomatoes, endangering entire populations of birds but also invertebrates, amphibians and fish. Intensive livestock and factory farms is driving extensive water pollution across all of Europe, from Belgium in the north to Italy in the south.

The EU’s water law, when properly enforced works. The EU’s LIFE program helped Slovakia restore precious wetlands destroyed prior to her accession to the EU. Species such as the bittern, purple heron, and black-crowned night heron were in dramatic decline previously. Now with the Water Framework Directive transposed into Slovakian national law, these previously destructive practices are illegal. Across Europe, the return of beavers and otters, dippers and salmon are testament to WFD effectiveness for species, habitats and people alike.

So join the campaign to #ProtectWater and deliver a greener #FutureofCAP by using the form above to tell the European Commission to preserve the Water Framework Directive

Christopher Sands - Head of Communications, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.