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Going with the Flow: Integrated Water Resources Management, the EU Water Framework Directive and Ecological Flows

Howarth, William (2018) Going with the Flow: Integrated Water Resources Management, the EU Water Framework Directive and Ecological Flows. Legal Studies, 38 (2). pp. 298-319. ISSN 0261-3875. (doi:10.1017/lst.2017.13) (KAR id:66070)

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This paper seeks to relate broad structural themes in water regulation to the

practicalities of imposing legal measures to protect aquatic ecosystems. Specifically,

a contrast is drawn between the global imperative of Integrated Water Resources

Management and the sectoral (issue-by-issue) approach to water regulation that has

traditionally prevailed in both regional and national legislation. The intuitive

attractions of ‘integration’ are contrasted with the challenge of interrelating the

diverse purposes for which water legislation is adopted, both for human needs and

for ecological purposes. These challenges are well illustrated in the European Union

Water Framework Directive (WFD) which claims to adopt an ‘integrated’ approach, is

actually concerned with water quality, largely to the exclusion of other water-related

concerns. Insofar as the Directive does seek to secure integration between water

quality and water quantity concerns in surface water this is only done in a secondary

or incidental way. Water flow becomes relevant only where specified environmental

objectives under the Directive are not being met. The legally contingent status of

flow has been bolstered markedly by recent guidance under the WFD Common

Implementation Strategy on Ecological Flows. The significance of this guidance is

discussed and related to the implementation challenges that it raises. In relation to

the UK, and particularly England, it is argued that the response to addressing water

flow issues arising under the WFD had been dilatory and inadequate. Concluding

observations reflect on the global, regional and national challenges for integration of

water legislation as they have been illustrated by the discussion of regulating for

ecological water flows.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/lst.2017.13
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Sian Robertson
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2018 15:57 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Howarth, William:
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