UKTAG is a partnership of the UK environment and conservation agencies which was set up by the UK-wide WFD policy group consisting of UK government administrations. It was created to provide coordinated advice on the the science and technical aspects of the European Union's Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). This Directive sets an enormous challenge in meeting the objectives of the improvement and the protection of the water environment and is the major driver for the sustainable management of water in the UK. The water environment includes all rivers, canals, lakes, estuaries, wetlands and coastal waters as well as water under the ground.

UKTAG is currently chaired by the Environment Agency and supported by a UKTAG Coordinator.  Representatives from each of the following organisations sit on the group: 

Invited standing representatives, who can attend when matters of interest arise, include:

  • Technical task team Chairs
  • Invited technical specialists
  • The Department of Environment and Local Government for the Republic of Ireland

UKTAG operates through technical task teams:

In developing recommendations the UKTAG takes into consideration available scientific and technical information or it may commission research into specific areas where the science is not fully understood.  In presenting its advice and recommendations to the UK’s government administrations, the UKTAG seeks to put proposals in to context.  The UK government administrations consider these implications before deciding whether to adopt the UKTAG’s recommendations. The approach to the adoption and implementation of recommendations can vary for each country within the UK, depending on present and proposed legislation, and on policy in each country. This is for Ministers to decide. 
UKTAG is also involved in work at a European level, developing common guidance, standards and understanding on implementation of the Directive and sharing experiences and approaches. 






The Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and the Groundwater Daughter Directive (2006/118/EC) require EU Member States to protect groundwater against pollution and deterioration by preventing or limiting entry of pollutants (substances liable to cause pollution) to groundwater. The respective UK and Ireland environment agencies are responsible for considering whether a potential pollutant should be determined to be a hazardous substance or a non-hazardous pollutant. The approach used in assessing substances updates that set out in the old Groundwater Directive (80/68/EEC).

The Joint Agencies Groundwater Directive Advisory Group (JAGDAG) reviews assessments made by the agencies. JAGDAG comprises the Environment Agency (EA), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), the Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (EPA), Health Protection Agency (HPA), Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and industry representatives. Assessments are then subject to public consultation, and may be subject to further review by the respective governments, before a final determination is made.

Hazardous substances must be prevented from entering groundwater and the input of non-hazardous pollutants must be limited to ensure that groundwater does not become polluted. JAGDAG’s role is to advise on the determination of the status of substances. Regulation of activities to protect groundwater is dealt with separately by the respective environment agencies and is currently under active consideration.