Water management is critical in small islands such as the Azores (Portugal), and the present paper address changes that have occurred in the last decades through national constitutional arrangements and the adoption of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The WFD provided an opportunity to implement integrated river basin planning, whose main results are also discussed, surpassing early approaches mainly focused on complying with European Union sanitation goals and eutrophication control. Therefore, new policies emerged, and take into account exemptions that all water bodies will comply with WFD environmental objectives by 2027 (83.7% in 2015). The main constraints are the result of (1) insufficient funding, (2) lack of empowerment by water authority, and (3) no consideration of the economic dimension.

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