The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires member states to identify and implement program of measures for reaching good water status for all water bodies by 2015. Selecting the most cost-effective set of measures for reaching good water status is especially important for Romania, a country that belongs to the most economically weak and vulnerable EU member state.
In addition, EU water legislation imposes high investment needs that require careful considerations regarding the nation’s affordability. Romanian water sector poses the limited financial and budgetary resources available for supporting this implementation as well as the limited capacity to pay for the many water users and economic sectors.
Thus, in the implementation of the EU WFD, Romania is confronted with the difficulty to choose among a wide range of measures. Hence the challenge lies on how to choose among all the available measures that can appropriately be applied and more so, how to prioritize them.
In response to address the pressures in the Romanian river basins, a number of measures have been identified as part of EU WFD implementation. There are two categories of measures defined for removing and reducing the effects of these pressures i.e. basic measures and supplementary measures.
The basic measures include concrete projects and programs to achieve the good status of all water bodies. Supplementary measures were also identified and aimed at reducing the effects of hydro-morphological alterations, application of good practices, capacity building of reformed water institutions and public awareness initiatives.
Because of the limited cost-information, the most challenging steps were to assess cost-effectiveness of the proposed measures. As a result of 5-years effort of specialists from various sectors a cost effectiveness analysis report was published. It highlights the investments and time periods the environmental objectives could be reached.
The cost effectiveness analysis describes a prioritization and analyzes the criteria for measures and implementation possibility of the kinds of measures to be under taken.
Identification of a single solution proved to be difficult due to costs and the probability to reach the target could only be evaluated in a qualitative way. Also uniformity of basic assumptions and proposed methods has been safeguarded by ensuring that all river basins (subunits) from Romania use the same approach.
Thus, it makes possible to compare the results of individual river basins and simplifies analysis at a greater scale, for example at national scale. It has to be mentioned that the involvement of stakeholders in the CEA was needed for the development of the programme of measures. In addition, there was a need to ensure that expert judgment was used in a rigorous and transparent manner.
There are still a lot of challenges: human (and financial) resources are required to undertake such studies, how results will be translated to right political decisions, and how out-of-water sectors understand needs to provide specific information. Also, there was a lack of studies related to monetary assessment of indirect costs of supplementary measures.
Importance of the case for IWRM
Integrated water resources management seeks to address a wide variety of water management objectives and interests which among other things many include: developing, selecting and implementing the most appropriate programme of measures related to all important water management issues. Such issues among others include organic pollution, hazardous pollution, nutrient pollution and hydro morphological alterations.
The use of cost effectiveness analysis is one of the ways of achieving IWRM objectives. Finally, having integrated basin analysis of all water management issues provides opportunities for overall improvements in management.
Photo credit: Sava Violeta