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Regulatory framework for protecting water


A basic water protection or water management law and associated regulations oblige all citizens of a country, but particularly landowners and farmers, to comply with comprehensive requirements to secure drinking water supplies and the quality of drinking water in order to ensure the proper functioning of the entire water supply system and its use as drinking and industrial water. The law regulates access to drinking and industrial water, lays down limits for hazardous substances, regulates irrigation and drainage, creates the organisational framework for water and soil associations, secures drinking water reserves and promotes the economical use of water. Technical implementation on the farm and in processing is monitored regularly by state or private inspection institutions.

The water protection or water management law must form an integral part of all of a country’s key environmental legislation. At the technical level, legislation on fertilisers, pesticides and soil protection and infrastructure programmes for rural areas must all be coordinated with the water management law.


  • A properly functioning country-wide administration and monitoring system with access to the relevant information and sufficient technical and human capacities for its design, implementation and monitoring
  • Clear and coherent political strategy and targets for policy-makers and public authorities
  • Clear responsibilities in public authorities
  • Close cooperation and knowledge sharing with local advisory services
  • Close cooperation and knowledge sharing with research institutions
  • Country-wide monitoring of natural resources and their quality (e. g. water, soil, forests, air, grassland)
  • Good knowledge of good agricultural practices
  • Participation of all stakeholders involved, e. g. science / research, agricultural advisory services, civil society, public and private sector (incl. farmers and their interest groups)
  • Monitoring and control system for the agricultural production processes supported
  • Regular neutral inspections on farms and in agri-food enterprises
  • Sanction mechanisms

Possible Negative Effects

  • Environmental laws might be too strict and extend beyond the economic and the farmers' technical opportunities, thus hindering the development of agriculture and the economy as a whole
  • Agriculture cannot be integrated sustainably into the water cycle
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This page was last edited on 7 May 2023 | 7:22 (CEST)
Implementation Level
  • On Site
  • Competent Authority
  • National Government
Required Budget
low ($)
Impact Horizon
  • medium
  • long
Administrative Complexity
Ministries Involved
  • Agriculture, Fisheries & Forests
  • Environment & Natural Resources
  • Justice
  • Health
Trade Impact
not distorting
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  • Policy Objectives