Good water management is an integral part of the sustainability journey of the chemical industry, which uses water for production, cooling and cleaning purposes. Water quality in terms of reducing pollutants emitted and improving containment methods, for example, has been addressed over a long period of time.
Implementing the Water Framework Directive
The Water Framework Directive (WFD), now in its implementation phase, has established a coordinated framework for water protection and management in the EU. The Directive focuses on the quality, quantity and pricing of the EU’s water supplies, covering surface, ground and coastal waters.
The European chemical industry believes that implementing the WFD will help improve Europe’s water quality to the benefit all citizens. Together with other stakeholders, Cefic is involved in selecting priority substances for action and defining standards to limit the concentration of these substances in surface water in the EU (Environmental Quality Standards, EQS). Some of these substances, known as Priority Hazardous Substances, will be more strictly managed than others.
In addition to measures taken at the EU level, the Directive requires Member States to take measures at the river basin level against relevant substances. The chemical industry contributes its experience to the process at both levels in order to help set appropriate standards that take into account the latest information and technology.
Cefic position on Commission proposal for a Directive on priority substances and EQS
In January 2012, the European Commission published a proposal for a Directive on Priority Substances (PS) and Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) under the Water Framework Directive.
With respect to this proposal, Cefic supports a regulatory framework that efficiently identifies and addresses necessary controls on substances shown to pose higher risks than permitted by relevant regulation. This framework should fully respect the role of the vertical legislation – namely REACH, which also considers the protection of water.
Cefic considers that the development of the proposal has broadly been risk-based and transparent. But it notes that the processes for PS selection and EQS setting could be improved, and is concerned that the selection of Priority Hazardous Substances (PHS) has been mainly hazard-based.
Cefic also feels that the proposed watch list mechanism is a good step forward to improve the quality of the monitoring database, but needs further methodological development under the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS).