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The People Behind the Projects - Interview with Steve Warren - Water quality at stake - Water governance in the Western EECCA
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The People Behind the Projects - Interview with Steve Warren - Water quality at stake - Water governance in the Western EECCA


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  • 1. EuroThe People Behind the Projects Environment > Water governance in the Western EECCA > Interview with Steve Warren Water quality at stake For two years an EU-funded project has been working to help develop Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The €3 million two-year project, Water Governance in the Western EECCA countries has helped promote changes in water law, build institutional capacities, improve technical data exchange and introduce new methodologies. The project has been able to assist each of the partner countries with advice on different aspects of water legislation, Team Leader Steve Warren says in an interview with the ENPI Info Centre. “Five of the six countries have agreed a new system of water quality standards and a sixth, Belarus, is considering the advantages of changing to the new system.”N Steve Warren Q: What is the project trying to achieve? Steve Warren: The project aims at supporting the development of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in the six project countries – Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbai- jan and Georgia. The six countries currently manage water in ways derived from the former Soviet system in which planning is concerned mainly with ensuring the availability of sufficient water resources and not at all with water quality. It takes a rather narrow view of water and has no place for stakeholder participation. In contrast to this IWRM is a process of setting and achieving objectives for water bodies that: • Uses the entire river basin as the management unit; • Includes water in all its forms (surface and underground); • Takes account of all water uses, actual, prospective and potential; • Takes account of the effects of water (flooding, erosion, etc.); • Takes account of quantity & quality; • Considers water-related resources (wetlands, riparian habitats etc.);This publication does • Takes account of the needs and views of stakeholders and of public opinion.not represent theofficial view of the EC How does it achieve its objectives? What are the areas on which it focuses?or the EU institutions. The implementation of IWRM requires changes in water law and in institutional structure andThe EC accepts no function, better technical data and new methodologies.responsibility or IWRM is implemented in the EU through the Water Framework Directive but this requires exten-liability whatsoeverwith regard to its sive and very high quality biological monitoring data that does not at present exist in the EECCA countries. This is a series of interviews withcontent. The project therefore focussed on the acceptance by the partner leaders of projects funded by countries of a 5-class system of physicochemical water quality stan- the EU’s Regional Programme, prepared by the ENPI Info Centre. dards based on different uses for the water. This starting point was © 2010 ENPI Info Centre / EU a system developed for Moldova under an OECD project, which was
  • 2. Interview with Steve Warren p. 2 ENPI Info Centre > Environment >Water quality adapted in each country to accommodate natural background concentrations and, in some ca- ses, the inclusion of some additional parameters. Each country now has available, and some have plans to adopt, a system of standards that is very similar for each country. This will facilitate agreement on the physicochemical status of transboundary water bodies. This, however, is only a first step. The next will be the acceptance that, for a water body that does not meet the standards for its uses, these standards will then become the water quality objective. This will require the imposition of reduced Emission Limit Values for discharges over a period of time until the standards are met. What is the impact on the citizens of partner countries? Over a period of time (years rather than months) there should be a gradual improvement in surface water quality and the aquatic environment. Is it expected to have a long term impact or a ripple effect? If a country rolls out the adoption of IWRM river basin by river basin there will be a ripple effect but the real benefits will come when water and environmental quality improve over a period of years. What do you consider as your most important achievements? Five of the six countries have agreed a new system of water quality standards and a sixth, Bela- rus, is considering the advantages of changing to the new system. We were able to help each of the partner countries with advice on different aspects of water legislation. What is the biggest challenge you faced in its implementation? The biggest difficulty we encountered is common to nearly all the EECCA countries, which is the low priority afforded to the environment in the partner countries and in consequence the low level of resources available in the Ministries of Environment to agree and implement changes. Water Governance in Western EECCA Assists Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) Countries align with EU standards to ensure fair distribution of water, and supports the development of regulatory mechanisms and institutional procedures for River Basin Management Plans Participating countries Objective Armenia, Azerbaijan, It aims at helping to reduce pollution, foster fair sharing and effective use of scarce water resources and to Belarus, Georgia, improve the quality of shared water resources, such as trans-boundary rivers. The project seeks to improve, Moldova, Ukraine implement and enforce water legislation as well as contribute to convergence on EU standards. The Western Partner Countries, namely Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the Timeframe South Caucasus share river basins and waters with the EU, which makes transboundary water management a 2008-2010 crucial issue. Budget Find out more €2.2 million + €0.8 Water Governance in Western EECCA fiche million for equipment ENPI Info Centre – Environment thematic portal The ENPI Info Centre is an EU-funded Regional Information and Communication project highlighting the partnership between the EU and Neighbouring countries. The project isENPI info centre managed by Action Global Communications.