Case Study #29

Upper Sûre sub-basin - sub-catchment of reservoir

New drinking water protection zones around the Upper Sûre dam, national drinking water reservoir of Luxembourg, will restrict the use of fertilisers and pesticides on fields in the catchment area (copyright: Naturpark Öewersauer, photographer: Guy Krier)

Governance Level


Water management topics addressed

Water quality issues due to nutrient pollution

#29: Upper Sûre sub-basin - sub-catchment of reservoir


Since 2012, the environment ministry, national water agency (AGE), drinking water provider (SEBES), and external consultants have elaborated plans for new drinking water safeguard zones in the river basin that will further restrict the use of organic fertilisers and pesticides in agriculture, as part of the implementation of the national management plan 2015-2021 according to the Water Framework Directive (WFD). As a reaction, the “river contract Upper Sûre” (a river basin organisation, organizationally linked to the inter-municipal Nature Park) put together local working groups on the drinking water protection zones and mobilised local actors to be involved in the elaboration of the safeguard zones. Participating farmers, fearing existential threats to their farms, founded an association (LAKU) to experiment with more water-friendly practices and technologies, with funding from SEBES. They hoped for more flexibility for LAKU in the implementation of future restrictions and measures. The new draft law with the future restrictions was presented to the public in June 2019, containing revisions made following a formal public consultation process and was coordinated with additional funding opportunities offered by the agriculture ministry (which had hardly been involved before). Local actors (particularly the river contract, municipalities and farmers), however, until today feel that they should have been involved much earlier and more extensively. Contrary to what they expected, farmers organised in LAKU will probably not have a special status and more leeway in the implementation of water protection measures thanks to their cooperation with SEBES. Some of them have begun to move some of their farming activities to the Belgian sub-basin (not included in future protection zones).

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