The Netherlands not on track to meet water quality standards


Experts foresee that bodies of water in the Netherlands will not meet the standards of “good ecological status” by 2027, they told NRC. If the criteria remain unmet, the water quality could be a basis for blocking of economic activities.

The stipulations are laid out in the European Union’s Water Framework Directive, which has been in effect since 2000. There are 745 large bodies of water in the Netherlands, and only one percent of them met the water quality standards in 2019. 

If this continues, Brussels will have grounds to impose fines and oppose economic activities that have a detrimental effect on water quality. “I do foresee problems from 2027,” Marleen van Rijswick, professor of European and national water law at Utrecht University, told NRC.

Another expert, Frank van Gaalen of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, said he believes the chance of the Netherlands reaching the goal by 2027 is “very small.” The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management also anticipates the consequences could be “far-reaching” across the Netherlands.


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