Natural Water Retention Measures: the new policy integrator?

In November and December I went to two events in Bucharest and Paris focussed on Natural Water Retention Measures (NWRM).  NWRM has been around as a WFD CIS work item and an EC DG Environment commissioned project for a year now.  Some of you may have been invited to, or involved in, some of the four European regional workshops events.  RRC was in Brussels early on and provided some further information along the way.  

This recent increase in activity has coincided with the sign off of the NRWM policy document by all Water Directors from EU Member States, in mid December.  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this rather wordy new term is that it is being used by the Commission to bring together various elements of the different directives - WFD, Floods, and strategies - Climate change adaptation, Biodiversity 2020, green infrastructure and the Water Blueprint.  Promoting integrated policy is good, but it is posing a problem to the project team when trying to be concise across a very broad area.

The annual meeting of INBO (International Network of Basin Organisations) in Romania gave me the opportunity, together with the ECRR, to stress the clear links between river restoration and NWRM.  This comes out strongly from the RiverWiki projects, the work being done by all of us in the UK and the findings of the latest (Oct 2014) European River Restoration Conference.  This INBO workshop also featured a presentation from the Commission on their hopes for NWRM and links to river restoration.

As a key output of the NWRM Pilot Project (the evidence and supporting side to the policy document) is to be a form of guidance on implementing NWRM in river basin management.  The workshop in Paris was to review progress and the 1st draft with a small expert group (also including CIRIA and Sussex Wildlife Trust), used to publishing such material, from across Europe.  The end product will not be a huge and unwieldy compendium or regurgitation of existing manuals/guides on SUDS, river restoration, natural flood management, infrastructure planning, etc.  Its aim is to inform basin managers of the wide range of methods and techniques available to consider as part of, for example, programmes of measures and flood risk management plans.

Keep an eye out for this guidance in spring this year, and further info can be found on their web pages


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