Freshwater - National responses

What are the policy responses?

In Austria measures are implemented on the basis of the Water Act with the corresponding regulations. Subsequently the essential measures which are laid down in the National Water Management Plan are taken up.


Pollution of surface water (nutrients) and groundwater (nitrate)

The reduction in the pressures on surface water from nutrients can be achieved by a combination of measures on point sources, water treatment plants, and diffuse sources, mainly agriculture.


As set out in the fifth report of the European Commission on the implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271/EEC, Austria meets the specifications on waste water treatment and fullfill its reporting obligations to the European Commission.


The treatment of industrial wastewater takes place in accordance with the best available techniques (BAT), which is provided for in the 67 Austrian wastewater emission ordinances.


By 2015, those few wastewater treatment plants which do not yet meet the requirements of the Austrian Urban Waste Water ordinance regarding the removal of nutrients are to be brought up to the best available techniques.


Through the forceful implementation of the nitrates action programme, the diffuse emissions into groundwater and surface water will be further reduced. In addition to the obligatory measures there are also voluntary measures in the agricultural development programme (ÖPUL – Austrian programme for sustainable agriculture).


The measures adopted are to be continuously evaluated and developed further.



Hydromorphology of surface water

There is need for action particularly in river morphology and hydrology, drainage conditions and free-flow in running waters. Improvement priorities to 2015 include measures to restore the ability of fish to pass. The development of hydroelectric power is in a potential area of conflict with the main ecological objectives and is to be achieved in accordance with the specifications of the Water Framework Directive.



Following the extreme flooding in 2002 and the floods in recent years, a comprehensive cause-effect analysis has been carried out. In the context of integrated flood protection management, in addition to technical measures, in future increased passive flood protection, danger zone designation, spatial planning and socio-economic prevention measures – restricted use of areas at risk, warning and alarm plans, disaster prediction, etc. – as well as upstream water retention measures will be included in future planning.


Implementation of the EU Floods Directive into national law started in 2009; currently the river basins most at risk are being identified and flood risk maps and danger and risk maps as well as plans for flood risk management are being drawn up in accordance with the Directive.