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Lake management in Italy: the implications of the Water Framework Directive

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This paper constitutes the first consideration of the implications of the lake management in Italy arising from the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), in comparison to the provisions of existing national legislation. As a matter of fact, the Italian decrees anticipated the principles of the WFD and have substantially modified the legislation in the field of water in Italy. Important changes were introduced, both in the monitoring systems and in the classification methods for surface waters. The environmental quality status will be determined not only by monitoring the aqueous matrix, but also the sediment and the biota. The new WFD is the major piece of European Union (EU) legislation with environment at its core; it will guide the efforts for attaining a sustainable aquatic environment in the years to come. In the WFD one can see elements from all the different forces that guided the reform of EU water policy: environmental protection, deregulation and subsidiarity. Moreover, elements of the economic instruments approach (introduction of the cost recovery principle), quantitative concerns (setting of minimum flow objectives for rivers and abstraction limits for ground waters) and the quest for integration (river basin management with representation of all stakeholders) are all reflected in the WFD. The paper summarizes the present condition of the most important lakes in the Italian lake district and also highlights the case of Lake Varese, representing a unique case of lake management in Italy. Preliminary results show that there are very few examples dealing with the elements thought appropriate to lake water assessment as required by the WFD. The application of the objectives of the type specified is a largely unknown issue.
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Keywords: European Union Water Framework Directive; Italian water legislation; ecological water status; lake management; subalpine lakes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente della Lombardia, Regione Lombardia, 20100, Milan, Italy, and 2: Institute for Environment and Sustainability, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 21020, Ispra, Italy, 3: Biology Department, University of Milan, 20100, Milan, Italy

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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