An assessment of disproportionate costs in the Water Frame Directive

In 2013, the Emilia-Romagna regional administration created a project to assess the costs needed to meet the Water Framework Directive (WFD) policy objectives. The project involved a group of experts with a combination of relevant expertise from the Emilia-Romagna Regional Environmental Agency and the University of Bologna (geologists, engineers, statisticians and economists). The participating experts developed a methodology for the assessment of disproportionate costs according to the WFD guidelines. The methodology explicitly considers the interdependencies between water bodies and the multiple interactions between measures and pressures and fits into a common assessment procedure, developed in recent studies conducted in different European countries. The assessment of cost disproportionality was carried out for regional rivers flowing in the Po river basin and for all others river basins entirely included in the administrative boundaries of the Emilia-Romagna region and flowing directly into the Adriatic sea. The procedure made it possible to sketch the linkages between impacts and sources of pressure and to identify a cost effective combination of measures allowing to meet Water Framework Directive requirements. Moreover, the procedure allowed for the assessment of qualitative pressures, stemming from point and no point sources of pollutants, as well as quantitative pressures. It also enabled the identification of sub-areas in the areas where disproportionate costs are  more likely to occur.
Disproportionality was assessed based on multiple criteria, with a major role played by the ratio between costs and estimated benefits; where estimated costs are particularly high compared to benefits, the local authority may be motivated to ask for a derogation to the WFD environmental objectives.
The extended report of this study is available at this link. A synthesis of the study was also published in a scientific journal and is available at the following link