The continuing presence of a range of pollutants in a number of Europe's freshwaters threatens aquatic ecosystems and raises concerns for public health. Current reporting under the EU Water Framework Directive shows that a substantial proportion of Europe's freshwaters are at risk of not achieving the aim of 'good status' by 2015. Driven by the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD), improvements in the collection and treatment of wastewater in some regions of Europe have led to a reduction in the discharge of some pollutants to fresh and coastal waters. Challenges remain, however, because UWWTD implementation remains incomplete and other significant sources of water pollution exist, especially agriculture and urban storm flows. The implementation of effective and timely measures, required under the WFD, needs to encompass a greater focus on controls 'at source' and the efficient use of resources including water, energy and chemicals.