The water environment

The practice of managing the water environment can be viewed from hree perspectives:

  1. Water quantity and flood management
  2. Water quality and pollution management
  3. Water supply and drought management
  • Flooding and flood management

    The EU Flood Directive[1] defines "flood" as the temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water. This shall include floods from rivers, mountain torrents, Mediterranean ephemeral water courses, and floods from the sea in coastal areas, and may exclude floods from sewerage systems. The exclusion of floods from sewerage systems is concerned with operational or managerial failures, often in dry weather, but sewer flooding caused by rainfall is not excluded.

    "Flood risk" is defined in the directive as the combination of the probability of a flood event and of the potential adverse consequences for human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity associated with a flood event.

    The definition of "flood" within the Directive does not distinguish between the physical processes that have shaped the natural world around us and those which occur as a result of human kind's interaction with water. The reality is that "flood risk" is seldom a natural problem and it is almost entirely caused by the decisions of people in their relationship with water.

    Since the Flood Directive was published the International Standards Organisation has revised its definition of risk. The new definition states tha risk is the effect of uncertainty on objectives[2], and the previous definition now describes the level of risk. This suggests that flood management requires objectives and that it is necessary to manage both certaitnies and uncertainties.

    By using ISO 31,000 water managers can use the same terms and procedures as managers of other risks. This has distinct benefits in what is a multi disciplinary process


    [1] DIRECTIVE 2007/60/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 October 2007 on the assessment and management of flood risks

    [2] ISO 31,000 Risk management - Principles and guidelines, International Standards Organisation, www.iso.org