This activity aims to assist EECCA countries in setting realistic, achievable environmental standards (air and water quality standards and waste management performance standards), consistent with EU requirements.
The reform of the permitting system in the EECCA region is closely linked to the revision of environmental quality standards (for air and water) and establishment of appropriate technology-based performance standards for waste management. Previous co-operation between the European Commission, the EAP Task Force and EECCA countries resulted in developing a roadmap for reform which reviewed the EU framework Directives in the areas of air protection, water protection and waste management (and their “daughter” Directives) and presented the concepts and benchmarks for these reforms.
REFORMING SURFACE WATER QUALITY REGULATION IN EECCA
Expert Meeting, Kiev, 27 May 2008
The regional expert meeting brought together representatives of nine EECCA countries and Romania (as a lead country of the EU Water Initiative EECCA Working Group), international organisations, and consultants. The framework for the meeting discussion was set by an Issues Paper prepared by the EAP Task Force Secretariat.
The expert meeting participants confirmed that in all EECCA countries the old system based on Soviet-era MACs is still in place, and the countries have been either unwilling to reform it or lacked expertise and resources to do it.
The speakers presented two different approaches to the reform of surface water quality standards (SWQSs) in EECCA countries: one inspired by the EU legislation and proposed for Moldova as part of an EAP Task Force project , the other evolved in the Russian Federation. The EU-inspired approach puts an emphasis on water use-based classification of water bodies and implies a radical reduction in the number of regulated parameters compared to the present number of MACs in EECCA. It allows the adaptation of already existing standards to country-specific conditions but, on the other hand, necessitates the introduction of technique-based permitting of effluents to prevent discharges of pollutants not included in the SWQS system and ensure continuous improvement. The Russian approach relies heavily on water quality monitoring data and scientific analysis of each water body’s assimilative capacity.
The participants discussed the main advantages and challenges of each of the two approaches. The fact that Moldova is pursuing the implementation of a use classification-based SWQS system was seen as encouraging by other EECCA countries. The ongoing technical assistance projects with activities on water quality regulation in western EECCA countries and Central Asia (e.g., the EU Tacis project “Water Governance in Western EECCA” and the UNECE project “Water Quality in Central Asia”) are likely to further build on the approach proposed for Moldova. At the same time, the approach of setting norms of allowable impact on water bodies adopted in Russia, while conceptually interesting, may be very difficult to implement in EECCA due to its data intensity and analytical complexity.
The participants also emphasised the linkages between the reform of surface water quality regulation and wastewater discharge regulation, water pollution charges, etc., creating a need for concerted efforts in environmental regulatory reform. It was reaffirmed at the meeting that special stakeholder interests, low public awareness, insufficient human resources, and funding deficit represent important barriers to this reform. In addition, to effectively reform the SWQS system, it will be crucial to improve the current surface water quality monitoring programmes through targeted selection of monitoring parameters per water body, extending the laboratory capacity, and increased sampling and analysis frequencies.