Title: Guidance Document on Eutrophication Assessment (Eutrophication assessment in the context of European water policies)
Version no.: 14 Date: 14 May 2009
Author(s): EC-DG Environment and Steering Group (DE, ES, FI, NL, UK, EEA, JRC)
Circulation and received comments:
The mandate of the Eutrophication activity was agreed at the Water Directors meeting in Dublin in June 2004. An interim version of the guidance document was presented and endorsed by the Water Directors at their meeting in London in November 2005. The Water Directors agreed to update and complement the entire document when the outcome of ongoing processes and projects would become available. In Dresden (Germany) in June 2007 the Water Directors gave the mandate to review the guidance document on eutrophication assessment with a focus on chapters 3 and 5-9.
This document is the outcome of the review of the interim guidance document on eutrophication assessment, carried out by the Eutrophication Steering Group, chaired by the Commission, including experts from DE, UK, NL, FI, ES, EEA and a Technical Secretariat. Since the last mandate of the Water Directors in June 2007, the Steering Group has held 4 meetings (October 2007, February 2008, September 2008, and February 2009).
The first revision of the document (version 12) included the newly drafted chapter 6 on harmonisation of classification criteria, reviews of chapters 3 and 5, and Annex 1 as well as some updating and language editing.
Version 12 was consulted with the ECOSTAT Members (SCG in copy) from 24 March to 17 April. Comments were received from AT, BE (FL), DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, IT, NL, RO, SE and UK. Additional changes were discussed and agreed at the ECOSTAT Meeting on 20-21 April.
Version 13 was prepared for the SCG Meeting on 7-8 May filling some last gaps and taking all comments of MS into account. Final comments made at the SCG Meeting were incorporated into version 14.
The Water Directors are invited to:
Endorse the guidance document in order to make it publicly available after the Water Directors' meeting
Ask the Eutrophication Steering Group to produce a policy summary of the guidance to be endorsed by the SCG in autumn 2009.
Ursula Schmedtje (Ursula.Schmedtje@ec.europa.eu)
Common Implementation Strategy for the Water Framework Directive
DISCLAIMER: The publication of this interim document was endorsed at the Water Directors’ meeting on 28-29 May 2009 in Brno (Czech Republic). The document should be regarded as presenting an informal consensus agreed by all partners. However, the document does not necessarily represent the official, formal position of any of the partners.
Eutrophication is one of the most important and long lasting water quality problems in the EU. Since at least two decades, several policies have been adopted to tackle nutrient pollution and its consequences. The Water Directors, conscious of the challenge and the complexity of the subject, agreed in 2004 to start an activity tp develop guidance on harmonisation of eutrophication assessment. The guidance should cover all water categories (inland waters, coastal and marine) and all existing European policies, and should be firmly based on the methodological concepts of the Water Framework Directive.
The activity delivered a first Interim Guidance Document in November 2005 that was endorsed by Water Directors at their meeting in London. Although the document provided useful guidance both on technical and on policy relevant concepts, it was recognised that any attempt to harmonise eutrophication classification criteria should be informed by a number of important projects on-going at the time, notably intercalibration exercise and some of the projects lead by the Marine Conventions.
The Water Directors agreed at their meeting in Dresden in June 2007 to revise and update the Interim Guidance Document on Eutrophication. The present Guidance reflects the outcome of this process, led by a Steering Group chaired by the European Commission and with participation of experts from Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Consultations were held with the CIS Working Group on Ecological Status and with the Strategic Co-ordination Group.
The main issues addressed in the guidance document are a unified conceptual framework to understand eutrophication in all water categories, a conceptual read across EU directives (mainly Water Framework, Urban Wastewater and Nitrates Directives) and international policies (e.g. OSPAR and HELCOM) addressing eutrophication and a in-depth understanding of eutrophication in the context of WFD ecological status assessment. The guidance also includes an overview of current assessment methods and recommendations for harmonisation of classification criteria.
This document is the result of several years of work by many experts across Europe and it will contribute to a better understanding of the policies involved in tackling eutrophication and their interactions, improving harmonisation of assessment methods. In the coming years the guidance should be used and tested and those experiences should be considered in future developments.
The Water Directors recognise that eutrophication is a complex phenomenon and it may be necessary to work further on its assessment in the future. However, the publication of the WFD river basin management plans in 2009 and recent policy developments like the Marine Framework Directive (2008) and the Baltic Sea Action Plan (2007) will inevitably move the focus of the attention in the coming years towards measures to combat eutrophication and its effectiveness. The Water Directors, in close collaboration with the Marine Directors, stay committed to continue to lead on tackling this important environmental problem.
Table of Contents
2. Introduction 11
2.1. Scope of the activity 11
2.2. Understanding eutrophication in its policy context 12
2.3. Structure of the document 13
3. Overall conceptual framework for the assessment of eutrophication 13
3.1. The need, requirements and principles of a common conceptual framework 13
3.2. Description of the conceptual eutrophication framework 15
4. Overview and common understanding of eutrophication in EC and international policies 21
4.1. Introduction 21
4.2. Overview of policy instruments 22
4.3. Concepts and definitions of eutrophication 24
4.4. Key terms used in different European policies 25
4.5. Overview of classification of water bodies with regard to eutrophication 26
4.6. Assessment results under various policies 28
4.7. Examples of class comparisons 35
5. The WFD concept of ecological status in the context of eutrophication 37
5.1. Most sensitive biological quality elements 38
5.2. Role of the normative definitions in the development of ecological assessment methods 38
5.3. Shared principles in the normative definitions for the different water categories 39
5.4. Description given for abundance and taxonomic composition of aquatic flora 39
5.5. The role of general physico-chemical quality elements 43
6. Overview of current eutrophication assessment methodologies and criteria in European countries 43
6.1. Introduction 43
6.2. Lakes 44
6.2.1. Assessment methodologies and criteria used for water quality status classification 44
6.2.2. Impact and pressure criteria used in WFD Article 5 risk assessment 46
6.2.3. New WFD-compliant assessment systems 46
6.3. Rivers 49
6.3.1. Assessment methodologies and criteria used for water quality status classification 49
6.3.2. Impact and pressure criteria used in WFD Article 5 risk assessment 50
6.3.3. New WFD-compliant assessment systems 50
6.4. Transitional waters 53
6.4.1. Assessment methodologies and criteria used for water quality status classification 53
6.4.2. Impact and pressure criteria used in WFD Article 5 risk assessment 54
6.4.3. Examples of development of new WFD-compliant assessment systems 54
6.5. Coastal waters 57
6.5.1. Existing assessment methodologies and criteria used for water quality status classification 57
6.5.2. Assessment methodologies and criteria used for UWWT and Nitrates Directive designations 59
6.5.3. Impact and pressure criteria used in WFD Article 5 risk assessment 59
6.5.4. Examples of development of new WFD-compliant assessment systems 59
6.6. Marine waters 60
6.6.1. Existing assessment methodologies and criteria used for water quality status classification 60
6.6.2. Assessment methodologies and criteria used for UWWT and Nitrates Directive designations 60
6.6.3. Impact and pressure criteria used in WFD Article 5 risk assessment 61
6.6.4. Examples of development of new WFD-compliant assessment systems 61
6.6.5. Criteria and standards under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 61
7. Harmonisation of classification criteria 61
7.1. Use of nutrient standards and best practice in deriving them 61
7.2. Combining information from different quality elements in the assessment of ecological status 66
7.3. The river basin perspective: linking results of inland waters with transitional and coastal waters 69
7.4. WFD and marine conventions: coherence of current eutrophication assessment schemes 70
8. Monitoring – guidance and integration of requirements stemming from various obligations 72
8.1. Introduction 72
8.2. Guidance documents 73
8.3. Water categories and geographic coverage 74
8.4. Selection of monitoring sites 76
8.5. Selection of quality elements/parameters to be measured 77