Chapter 2.3.
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY STANDARDS FOR SURFACE WATERS AND RELATIVE POLICY TASKS


Article 2.3.0.1.

The provisions of this Chapter are established in pursuance of the Law of 26 March 1971 on the protection of surface waters from pollution and the Decree of 18 July 2003 concerning the integral water policy.


This Chapter provides for the partial transposition of Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy and Directive 2007/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on the assessment and management of flood risks.


Section 2.3.1.
Environmental quality standards for surface waters and relative policy tasks


Article 2.3.1.1.

This Section provides for the partial transposition of Directive 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC and 86/280/EEC, and amending Directive 2000/60/EC, and for the partial transposition of Directive 2013/39/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 August 2013 amending Directives 2000/60/EC and 2008/105/EC as regards priority substances in the field of water policy.

 

The guide values stated in Appendix 2.3.1 shall be used as basic environmental quality standards for assessing the good ecological and good chemical status of surface waters. In the river basin management plans, the assessment of ecological status is divided into five classes, namely "very good", "good", "moderate", "unsatisfactory" and "poor".

 

In accordance with Article 60, paragraph 1, 1°, a), 2), 3) and 4) of the Decree of 18 July 2003 concerning the integral water policy, the surface water bodies are divided into the following types in the river basin management plans [...]: "small stream", "small stream Kempen", "large stream", "large stream Kempen", "small river", "large river", "very large river", "fresh polder watercourse", "brackish polder watercourse", "fresh, mesotidal lowland estuary", "weakly brackish (oligohaline), macrotidal lowland estuary", "brackish, macrotidal lowland estuary", "salt, mesotidal lowland estuary", "circumneutral, heavily buffered lake", "moderately ion-rich, alkaline lake", "large, deep, eutrophic, alkaline lake", "large, deep, oligotrophic to mesotrophic, alkaline lake", "ion-rich, alkaline lake", "alkaline dune water", "very slightly brackish lake", "circumneutral, slightly buffered lake", "circumneutral, iron-rich lake", "heavily acidic lake", "moderately acidic lake" and "very brackish lake".


Article 2.3.1.2. The basic environmental quality standards stated in Article 2.3.1.1. also apply for the surface waters as stated in Sections 2.3.2., 2.3.3., 2.3.4. and 2.3.5., to the extent they supplement or raise special environmental quality standards applicable for these waters.

Article 2.3.1.3.

Derogations from the environmental quality standards may only be permitted in the river basin management plans in accordance with Articles 53, 54 and 56 of the Decree of 18 July 1993 concerning the integral water policy.

 

The basic environmental quality standards stated in Article 2.3.1.1, for the assessment of status, apply to the heavily modified and artificial bodies of water stated in Article 52 of the Decree of 18 July 2003 concerning the integral water policy. By way of derogation from this, other environmental quality standards may be determined for the following parameters in the river basin management plans: dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, chloride, sulphate, pH and all biological parameters.

 

In the case of the protected areas referred to in Article 71 of the same Decree, stricter environmental quality standards may be set in the river basin management plans.

 

The Government of Flanders shall, at the set times and at least when reviewing the river basin management plans, assess and where necessary adjust the environmental quality standards, as referred to in Article 2.2.3, §4 of the Decree of 5 April 1995 concerning the general provisions related to environmental policy.


Section 2.3.1.bis.
Environment quality standards for water bottoms


Article 2.3.1bis/1.

The guide values stated in Article 2.2.4 of the Decree of 5 April 1995 concerning the general provisions related to environmental policy, included in Appendix 2.3.1bis, shall be used as basic environmental quality standards for water bottoms.

 

The guide values determine the environmental quality level that must be achieved or maintained as much as possible. They do not apply as a remediation criterion, or as a remediation target as stated in the Decree of 27 October 2006 concerning soil remediation and soil protection.

 

The Government of Flanders shall, at the set times and at least when reviewing the river basin management or catchment basin management plans, assess and where necessary adjust the environmental quality standards, as referred to in Article 2.2.3, §4 of the Decree of 5 April 1995 concerning the general stipulations related to environmental policy.


Section 2.3.2.
Environmental quality standards for surface waters intended for drinking water production


Article 2.3.2.1. The physical, chemical and microbiological properties required of surface water intended for the production of drinking water at the extraction point are included in the table in Article 1 of Appendix 2.3.2.

Section 2.3.3.
Environmental quality standards for surface waters for use as bathing water


Article 2.3.3.1. The environmental quality standards which bathing waters are required to satisfy are determined in Article 1 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3. The sampling, monitoring, quality assessment, classification and quality status are carried out in conformance with Articles 1 to 3 inclusive of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3.

Section 2.3.4.
Environmental quality standards for surface waters for use as fishing water

Translation not available

Article 2.3.4.1. [...]

Article 2.3.4.2. [...]

Section 2.3.5.
Environmental quality standards for surface waters intended for shellfish


Article 2.3.5.1. The environmental quality standards to be met by all shellfish waters designated as such are included in Appendix 2.3.5.

Section 2.3.6.
Policy tasks


Article 2.3.6.1. Translation not available

Article 2.3.6.2.

In accordance with the provisions of Directive 91/271/EEC:

-

the control data concerning compliance with requirements made by these regulations for urban water treatment installations are retained and made available to the EU Commission within 6 months of receipt of such a request by the Flanders Environment Agency through the appropriate channels;

-

the Flanders Environment Agency shall provide the EU Commission, through the appropriate channels and by no later than 1 January 1996, with information on the programme that must be drawn up for the enforcement of Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste-water treatment.

-

the Flanders Environment Agency must produce a report every two years on the situation related to the disposal of urban waste water and sludge in the Flemish Region. For this, the company referred to in Article 32septies of the law of 26 March 1971 on the protection of surface waters against pollution must provide the Flanders Environment Agency with the necessary information concerning the removal of sludge. These reports are kept available for forwarding to the Commission.

-

every two years the Flanders Environment Agency draws up the programme for the treatment of urban waste water for the Flemish Region in accordance with the tables in Directive 93/481/EU. In conformance with Article 17 of the Directive, this information will be made available to the Commission through the appropriate channels, and each time by no later than 30 June with the following programme by no later than 30 June 1996.

-

the Flanders Environment Agency must permanently adapt the network for the measuring of the water quality of the surface waters to discharges of treatment installations and to direct discharges of companies when it may be expected that the receiving environment will be significantly influenced, if discharges are concerned from installations which represent at least 4,000 IU (direct discharges are understood as each case of discharging which does not take place through public water treatment systems into receiving waters).

-

if the Flemish Region is informed of the detrimental influencing of waters which fall under the jurisdiction of a Member State of the EU or the competence of the Brussels Capital Region or the Walloon Region due to discharges of urban waste water from the Flemish Region, the Flanders Environment Agency will organise the necessary consultation to investigate which discharges are involved and what measures must be taken at the source to protect the affected waters.

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all surface waters of the Flemish Region are designated “vulnerable areas” in accordance with Article 5, paragraph 1 of Directive 91/271/EEC. In the Flemish Region, no “less vulnerable areas” as referred to in Article 6, paragraph 1 of the same Directive are designated.

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for the whole territory of the Flemish Region a minimum percentage for the reduction of the total load for the totality of public water treatment installations is established of at least 75% for the total of phosphorous and at least 75% for the total of nitrogen.

-

if the company referred to in Article 32septies of the law of 26 March 1971 on the protection of surface waters against pollution wishes to make use of the exception provision included in footnote (5) in Appendix 5.3.1.a. to Title II of the VLAREM, this company is obliged to prove on the basis of a scientific study that the same protective level will be achieved on an annual basis; in this case, the Flanders Environment Agency will inform the Commission of such through the appropriate channels.


Article 2.3.6.3.

§ 1.

A collection system for urban waste water must be provided:

by 31 December 1998 for agglomerations with more than 10,000 inhabitant equivalents;

by 31 December 2005 for agglomerations with less than 10,000 inhabitant equivalents;

 

§ 2.

When the construction of the collection systems referred to in §1 is not justified because from an environmental perspective there would be no benefit or because it would be excessively expensive, use must be made of separate or other suitable systems with which the same degree of environmental protection is obtained.

 

§ 3.

The collection systems referred to in §1 must be designed, built, adapted and maintained in accordance with the best available techniques, in particular with regard to:

volume and properties of the urban waste water;

the prevention of leaks;   

the limiting of pollution of the receiving waters due to rainwater flooding.

 

On the proposal of the Coordination Commission for the Integral Water Policy stated in Article 25 of the Decree of 18 July 2003 concerning the integral water policy, the Flemish minister may establish a code of good practice for the design and construction of public sewers.

 

§ 4.

Places for the discharging of urban waste water must, to the extent possible, be chosen so that the effect on the receiving surface waters is as slight as possible.


Article 2.3.6.4.

The remediation of the outlying area to be collectively optimised shall take place by means of a separate system and in accordance with the timing schedule stated in the implementation plan.

 

When a public sewer system is laid or re-laid, regardless of the area, a separate system must be laid unless otherwise stated in the implementation plan.


Article 2.3.6.5. The flood risk management objectives and surface water shortage management objectives are determined using the criteria stated in Article 2 and 3 of Appendix 2.3.6, which is attached to this Order. To assess flood risk and water shortage, use is made of assessment frameworks as stated in Article 4 of Appendix 2.3.6.

Section 2.3.7.
Assessment and management of bathing water quality


Subsection 2.3.7.1.
Objective and scope


Article 2.3.7.1.1.

§ 1.

The general objective of this Section, in accordance with Directive 2006/7/EC of 15 February 2006 concerning the management of bathing water quality and repealing Directive 76/160/EEC and in accordance with Article 51bis of the Decree of 18 July 2003 relating to the integral water policy, is to preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment and to protect human health and is complementary to the other objectives of this chapter.

 

§ 2.

This Section is applicable to all bathing waters indicated in conformance with the provisions of this Section.

 

§ 3.

This Section does not apply to:

bathing pools and spa pools;

confined waters subject to treatment or used for therapeutic purposes;

artificially created confined waters separated from surface water and groundwater.


Subsection 2.3.7.2.
Designation of bathing waters


Article 2.3.7.2.1. The Flemish ministers competent for the environmental and water policy and the Flemish minister competent for the health policy will together designate all bathing waters no later than 31 March of each calendar year. When designating these waters, they will also determine the start and duration of the bathing season.

Article 2.3.7.2.2.

§ 1.

At least three months before the decision on the designation of bathing waters stated in Article 2.3.7.2.1., a draft list of bathing waters shall be announced with regard to the establishment, review and updating of the bathing water lists, with a view to encouraging public participation. During a thirty-day period, all members of the public will be free to give their proposals, comments or complaints concerning the draft list.

 

§ 2.

The announcement will be made by means of:

a message on the Government of Flanders website;

publication in at least three daily or weekly newspapers;

a poster in each municipality in which a body of bathing water on the draft list is located.

 

§ 3.

The draft list of bathing waters shall announce:

the location of every body of bathing water on the draft list;

the proposed start and duration of the bathing season;

the location of the authority from which information on every body of bathing water can be obtained;

the period in which proposals, comments or complaints can be submitted;

the addresses and contact details of the authorities to which proposals, comments or complaints can be submitted.

 

§ 4.

The Flanders Environment Agency shall draw up a summary report of proposals, comments or complaints submitted with regard to the draft list. After consulting with the Flemish Agency for Care and Health, taking the aforementioned summary report into account, a reasoned, definitive proposal for a list of bathing waters will be immediately formulated with regard to the Order stated in Article 2.3.7.2.1 giving the start and duration of the bathing season.


Article 2.3.7.2.3.

The Order stated in Article 2.3.7.2.1 shall be published in the Belgian Official Journal. Determination as bathing water within the meaning of this Order shall also be made public on site no later than the day before the start of the bathing season in accordance with Article 2.3.7.2.1. The Commission shall be notified immediately of the decision and, where appropriate, of the reasons for a change in the list of bathing waters.

 


Subsection 2.3.7.3.
Classification and quality status of bathing waters


Article 2.3.7.3.1.

As a result of the bathing water quality assessment carried out in accordance with Article 3 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3, the Flanders Environment Agency shall, in accordance with the criteria stated in Article 4 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3., classify bathing water as:

poor;

acceptable;

good, or

excellent.

Article 2.3.7.3.2. The first classification in accordance with the requirements of this Subsection shall be completed no later than by the end of the 2015 bathing season.

Article 2.3.7.3.3. The competent authorities shall take such realistic and proportionate measures as they consider appropriate to increase the number of bathing waters classified as “excellent” or “good”. By the end of the 2015 bathing season, all bathing waters must at least be classified as “acceptable”. The Flanders Environment Agency shall ensure that these measures are taken in a timely manner, and if necessary, take the initiative itself or formulate proposals for the competent authorities.

Article 2.3.7.3.4.

Notwithstanding the general provision of Article 2.3.7.3.3, bathing waters may be temporarily classified as “poor” and still remain in compliance with the conditions of this Section. In such cases, the Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall, each in its own area, ensure that the following conditions are satisfied:

with regard to each body of bathing water classified as “poor”, the following measures shall be taken at the start of the bathing season following that of the classification:

a)

the Flemish Agency for Care and Health or the Flanders Environment Agency shall take appropriate management measures, including, where the former is concerned, a bathing ban or advice against bathing, with a view to preventing bathers’ exposure to pollution;

b)

the Flanders Environment Agency shall identify the causes and reasons for the failure to achieve an “acceptable” quality status;

c)

the Flanders Environment Agency shall take appropriate measures to prevent, reduce or eliminate the causes of pollution, and if necessary, propose measures to the competent authorities;

d)

the Flanders Environment Agency shall alert the public by means of a clear and straightforward warning sign and inform them of the causes of the pollution and of the measures taken on the basis of the bathing water profile;

if a body of bathing water is classified as “poor” for five successive years, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health will introduce a permanent bathing ban or permanent advice against bathing. However, the Flemish Agency for Health and Care may introduce a permanent bathing ban or permanent advice against bathing before the end of the five year period if the Flanders Environment Agency considers that the achievement of “acceptable quality” would be infeasible or disproportionately expensive.


Subsection 2.3.7.4.
Bathing water profiles


Article 2.3.7.4.1.

§ 1.

The Flanders Environment Agency shall ensure that bathing water profiles are established. Each bathing water profile may cover a single body of bathing water or multiple contiguous bathing waters.

 

§ 2.

The content and method of assessment, establishment and updating of the bathing water profile is determined in Articles 5 and 6 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3..

 

§ 3.

Bathing water profiles shall be established for the first time by no later than 24 March 2011.


Subsection 2.3.7.5.
Management measures in exceptional circumstances


Article 2.3.7.5.1. The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health, each in their own area, shall ensure that timely and adequate management measures are taken when they are made aware of unexpected situations that have, or could reasonably be expected to have, an adverse impact on bathing water quality and on bathers’ health. Such measures shall include providing information to the public and, if necessary, a temporary bathing ban, imposed by the Flemish Agency for Care and Health.

Article 2.3.7.5.2.

§ 1.

When the bathing water profile established in accordance with the provisions of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3 indicates a potential for cyanobacterial proliferation, the Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health will carry out appropriate monitoring to enable timely identification of the health risks.

 

§ 2.

When cyanobacterial proliferation occurs and a health risk has been identified or is suspected, adequate management measures to prevent exposure, including providing information to the public, shall be taken immediately.


Article 2.3.7.5.3. When the bathing water profile established in accordance with the provisions of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3 indicates a tendency for proliferation of macro-algae or marine phytoplankton, the Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall carry out investigations to determine their acceptability and health risks and take adequate management measures, including providing information to the public.

Article 2.3.7.5.4.

The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall visually inspect bathing waters for pollution such as tarry residues, glass, plastic, rubber or any other waste.

 

When such pollution is found, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall take adequate measures, including, if necessary, providing information to the public.


Subsection 2.3.7.6.
Cooperation on transboundary waters


Article 2.3.7.6.1. When the situation in a river basin gives rise to transboundary impacts on bathing water quality, the competent authorities involved will cooperate as appropriate, including through the appropriate exchange of information and joint action to control these impacts. In such a case, the Flanders Environment Agency shall take the necessary initiatives with regard to the cooperative bodies charged with water quality management in international river basins as a result of international conventions to which the Flemish Region is party.

Subsection 2.3.7.7.
Providing information to the public


Article 2.3.7.7.1.

§ 1.

The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall jointly ensure that the following information is actively circulated and promptly made available during the bathing season in an easily accessible place in the immediate vicinity of each body of bathing water:

the current bathing water classification and any bathing ban or advice against bathing, by means of a clear and simple sign or symbol;

a general description of the bathing water, in non-technical language, based on the bathing water profile stated in Section 4 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3;

in the case of bathing waters subject to short-term pollution:

a)

notification that the bathing water is subject to short-term pollution;

b)

an indication of the number of days on which bathing was banned or advised against in the previous bathing season because of such pollution;

c)

a warning whenever such pollution is predicted or present;

information on the nature and duration of abnormal situations during such events;

in the case of a bathing ban or advice against bathing: a warning sign for the public indicating the reasons;

when introducing a permanent bathing ban or permanent advice against bathing: the fact that the area in question is no longer bathing water, and the reasons for this;

a reference to sources with more complete information in accordance with §2.

 

§ 2.

The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall use appropriate media and technologies, including the internet, to actively and promptly circulate the information concerning bathing water quality stated in §1, as well as the following information, and, when necessary, in several languages:

a list of bathing waters;

the classification of each bathing water over the last three years and its bathing water profile, including the results of monitoring carried out in accordance with this Section since the last classification;

in the case of bathing waters classified as being “poor”, information on the causes of pollution and on the measures taken with a view to preventing bathers’ exposure to pollution and to tackle its causes as stated in Article 2.3.7.3.4;

in the case of bathing waters subject to short-term pollution, general information on:

a)

conditions that are likely to lead to short-term pollution;

b)

the risk of such pollution and the probable duration;

c)

the causes of the pollution and the measures taken with a view to preventing bathers’ exposure to pollution and to tackle its causes.

The list stated in 1° shall be made available each year before the start of the bathing season. The results of the monitoring stated in 2° shall be made available on the internet upon completion of the analyses.

 

§ 3.

The information stated in §1 and §2 shall be circulated as soon as it is available and with effect from the start of the fifth bathing season after 24 March 2008.

 

§ 4.

The Flanders Environment Agency and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health shall, wherever possible, provide information to the public using geo-referenced technology and present it in a clear and coherent manner, in particular through the use of signs and symbols.


Subsection 2.3.7.8.
Complaints centre for the public


Article 2.3.7.8.1. Pursuant to the application of the procedure stated in Article 2.3.7.2.2, the Flanders Environment Agency shall set up a permanent complaints centre. The public will be able to use every means of communication to give their proposals and comments or lodge complaints on the state of bathing water quality through this complaints centre.

Subsection 2.3.7.9.
Reporting to the European Commission


Article 2.3.7.9.1.

§ 1.

Each year, the Flanders Environment Agency shall provide the European Commission with the following through the appropriate channels:

the monitoring results for each body of bathing water;

the bathing water quality assessment in accordance with Article 3 of Part II of Appendix 2.3.3;

a description of significant management measures taken.

It shall provide this information annually by no later than 31 December in relation to the preceding bathing season. It shall begin providing it once the first bathing water quality assessment has been carried out.

 

§ 2.

The Flanders Environment Agency shall notify the European Commission annually, through the appropriate channels, before the start of the bathing season of all waters designated as bathing waters, including the reason for any change compared to the previous year. It shall do this for the first time before the start of the first bathing season after 24 March 2008.