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:
- Environment Agency
- Northern Ireland Environment Agency
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency
- Natural Resources Wales
- Natural England
- Scottish Natural Heritage
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:
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.