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    François Lacroix
    Deputy general director of Onema


The European commission has presented its action plan to safeguard water resources in Europe, also known as the blueprint, to the European parliament and the first deadline for the water framework directive (WFD) in 2015 is fast approaching. That is why this issue of our newsletter is largely devoted to Europe. The WFD is, in many ways, a basic component in the raison d'être of Onema. It set a number of obligations, the first of which is to achieve good water status, hence the need for reliable and rigorous monitoring, which itself calls for continuous improvement in monitoring and assessment techniques. The system is still in the formative phase and stakeholders must accept that it will continue to evolve. A number of unknowns remain concerning the implementation of new methods, for example in the biological compartment, a key sector in the WFD. The understandable concern, which we must lay to rest, is that the new methods will "make things look bad".

The second concerns policing activities, which are becoming increasingly technical with each passing day. Recommendations, whether from the blueprint, the Revenue court or the Onema Board of directors, all advise reinforcing inspections to ensure regulatory compliance rather than reinforcing the regulations themselves.

These obligations have a direct impact on the work of Onema personnel in the field. That work includes the daily police work on the local and departmental levels, as well as using the data collected by the monitoring systems to organise future work, prepare the inspection programmes, assess and rapidly modify if needed the efforts to improve water quality. Finally, Onema also produces some of the data itself, notably those concerning fish, river hydromorphology, ecological continuity and low-flow conditions. The work done by Onema personnel is not limited to the obligations set by the WFD, it also fills a number of national and territorial needs, but Europe remains the driving force in ensuring environmental preservation and restoration.


François Lacroix,
Deputy general director of Onema


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