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Rivers, lakes and wetlands can’t speak for themselves. Will you? Sign now to protect Europe’s water sources, which are deteriorating at an alarming rate.

Rivers, lakes, wetlands, streams and groundwater are all protected under EU law. Member States must protect their waters, and restore those which have already been damaged. 2027 is their final deadline.

As you read this, many Member States are trying to weaken the law. Together, we MUST stop this. Tell the European Commission to keep our water law strong!

Why this campaign?

We all need water to survive. Without healthy rivers, lakes and wetlands, there is no freshwater wildlife. Europe’s waters are protected under EU law – but many EU governments want to weaken the law. Together, we MUST stop this from happening.
The European Commission now wants you to have your say through its public consultation. This is your only chance to tell them to keep our water law strong.

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 and click ‘ACT NOW’.

What’s the problem?

According to the latest data, 60% of Europe’s rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands are unhealthy. For generations we have destroyed and polluted them, and used too much water irresponsibly.

If we continue in this way, it will affect everything – from small things in our day-to-day lives we take for granted to all the countless species that need these ecosystems to survive.

The EU water law protects our freshwater ecosystems, but governments now want to weaken it. Tell governments to keep our EU water law strong.

Who’s responsible?

Everyone has a part to play, but our governments are allowing rivers, lakes and wetlands to be exploited in ways that cause permanent harm. For example, dams and other infrastructure (e.g. for hydropower, flood defence and navigation) disrupt a river’s natural flow and stop species from reproducing. Unsustainable agriculture pollutes and uses lots of water.

Through the EU water law, governments agreed to end this destruction – but, they have failed to live up to their promises. And, to make matters worse, they now want weaken the law.

What’s the solution?

Turning back the clock on this deterioration cannot be done without strong legislation. In Europe, we have a strong law that protects our rivers, lakes, wetlands, streams, coastal waters and groundwater – the EU Water Framework Directive. It also ensures that waters which have already been damaged are brought back to life, and by 2027 at the latest.

But, as you read this, many governments are trying to weaken the law. This would be a terrible blow for our rivers, lakes and wetlands, and everything that depends on them.

Why Wetlands International takes part

Wetlands International – European Association is a founding partner of the #ProtectWater Campaign. Rivers and wetlands are the most threatened habitats on Earth. Freshwater biodiversity suffers from the ongoing deterioration of rivers related to poor water quality and physical changes (e.g. dams). EU water legislation enables European freshwater ecosystems to recover from these pressures.

“Europe’s Water Framework Directive is an important policy instrument to protect and restore our waters and has proven to be successful when properly enforced. But huge gaps remain in Member States’ efforts to implement it fully. So, instead of revising the law, all attention should go to strengthening the directive’s implementation.”, says policy officer Eef Silver, “No other piece of environmental legislation is better equipped to accomplish sustainable and integrated river management.”

By 2027, Member States will have reached the final deadline to meet the objective of the Water Framework Directive: good ecological status for all Europe’s waters. Initial achievements on water quality improvements should inspire Member States to step up their ambition now, to achieve the Water Framework Directive objectives.

With this campaign, we call upon Member States to tackle the enduring pressures on rivers and wetlands through large-scale measures for river restoration and to protect the remaining free-flowing rivers in Europe.

More information

Act NOW: tell the European Commission to keep our water law strong!