In Belgium, environmental legislation is a regional responsibility. Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia are each independently and equally responsible for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. As a result of the recurring evaluation of the River Basin Management Plans for Belgium, a more substantive collaboration between the regions could lead to better results.

Therefore, a new ‘intra-Belgian’ consultation platform was established within the existing Coordination Committee for International Environmental Policy (CCIEP),. This ‘Water Consultation Platform’ is looking into the effects of the implementation of regional initiatives at an overarching level. VMM, SPW DGO 3 and BIM/IBGE are working together to better balance and implement the Water Framework Directive. On the local level, for the basins of the Zenne and Dyle-Gete rivers, this implementation is discussed in a cross-border water consultation.

Expert groups improve exchange of knowledge

Since the start of the project, there have been meetings between a number of steering groups and groups of experts. Expert groups have been established around the themes of pollutants specific to catchment areas (1), GAP analysis agriculture (2), and deviations (3). The expert groups aim to exchange their knowledge in order to investigate how to better harmonise the policies that govern these subjects in the various regions.

In the Cross-border Water Consultancy, knowledge and experience on the control of exotics (e.g. giant balsamia fungi), water quality management (flooding and drought), species protection (e.g. European beaver) and planning and follow-up of the decontamination infrastructure, water purification installations, etc., is being exchanged between the authorised governments for the regions and other local parties with interests (e.g. Contrat de Rivière, Intercommunale de Brabant Wallon, the Flemish Brabant region, the Regionaal Landschap organisations, etc.).

A common pressure and impact analysis

An expert group has been established within VMM, SPW DGO 3 and BIM/IBGE to develop a more coordinated, cross-border pressure and impact analysis. In the first phase, the regional models and data are being compared and evaluated. Freight shipping on the cross-border rivers is being compared and documented (the Lys, Dender, Scheldt, Zenne, Dyle, Laan and Gete rivers). For this, we are going to focus on the emissions of nitrogen, PAKs and cadmium. The results of this comparison study will be used to design a pilot study on the basin of the Zenne river.