How 375,000 people became Europe’s water guardians

375,000 people from across Europe have signed up to defend an EU water protection law that national governments were threatening to water down.

The EU’s ‘Water Framework Directive’, which protects rivers, lakes and wetlands across Europe, was opened up for public consultation by the European Commission with many governments keen to weaken the law.

Sergiy Moroz, Senior Policy Officer for Water and Biodiversity at the EEB said:

“People from across Europe have spoken up for the stony stream they paddled in as children, the tree-lined river where they saw their first kingfisher, the quiet lake they visit to clear their head and the wetland that naturally filters each glass of water they drink.”

Moroz added: “They’ve also spoken up for the wise use of water that comes from nature: they believe in the sustainable use of freshwater to power our economy and grow our food.”

As well as being essential elements of precious natural environments, environmental groups say bodies of water – like lakes, rivers and wetlands – are vital for our survival. The freshwater that they collect and filter not only supports an immense number of wild plants and animals, but is also relied upon by industry and agriculture, and – of course – gives us healthy, clean water to drink.

The public consultation attracted diverse groups, with environmentalists, anglers and other concerned citizens rallying around a call to retain protections from pollution, development and destruction.

Europeans gave voice to the voiceless, standing up for unique and important places like this.

The #protectwater campaign was led by the Living Rivers Europe coalition and was supported by more than 130 civil society organisations.

The campaign’s backers agreed that the EU’s strong protective laws should not be changed but rather fully put into practice by national governments, in order to keep rivers, lakes and wetlands healthy and beautiful for generations to come.

The future of the Water Framework Directive will be decided in the first half of 2020. The Living Rivers Europe campaign promises to be there every step of the way to make sure that these important laws remain intact and are fully realised.

“Thanks for being awesome, water.” – Great Tit
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