Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1897/ieam_2008-043.1
Title (Primary) Toward an integrated assessment of the ecological and chemical status of European river basins
Author von der Ohe, P.C.; de Deckere, E.; Prüß, A.; Muñoz, I.; Wolfram, G.; Villagrasa, M.; Ginebreda, A.; Hein, M.; Brack, W.
Source Titel Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management
Year 2009
Department WANA
Volume 5
Issue 1
Page From 50
Page To 61
Language englisch
Keywords Water Framework Directive; P-PNEC; SPEAR; Toxic Units; EQS
Abstract In the present paper, recommendations to improve ecological and chemical status assessments in accordance with the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) are made, based on experience gained from the MODELKEY project database, linking existing biological and chemical monitoring data of three case-study river basins (Elbe, Scheldt and Llobregat). The data analysis within and across river basins revealed major obstacles to be tackled, including scarcity of matching ecological and chemical monitoring sites for cause-effect relationships as well as a general lack of stressor-specific metrics for single 'biological quality elements' (BQE) to enable a comprehensive risk assessment of all predominant stressors, including toxicity. An example of such a metric, which is recommended for the BQE of 'benthic macroinvertebrates', is the trait-based 'species at risk' index (SPEAR) that correlated well with a respective measure for toxic stress, referred to as 'toxic units' (TU), based on simple mixture toxicity concepts. Surprisingly, the assessment of chemical status of a total of 695 monitoring sites for the years 2000 to 2004 showed that Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) were exceeded for at least one of the currently 41 priority pollutants (PP) in 92% to 98% of the cases in all of the three river basins, which, according to definition, indicates potential effects on ecological status. A comparison of compliance with EQS for 41 PP with a respective effect-threshold (derived for 'benthic macroinvertebrates') revealed that the rather conservative concept of chemical status is most likely not protective in all cases. Furthermore, to account for the many other compounds that are detected frequently in European surface waters and which may also have ecotoxicological effects, we introduced a 'provisional predicted no-effect concentration' (P-PNEC) that is in accordance with the EQS-methodology and is suggested to identify potential 'emerging compounds' for which no or insufficient toxicity data exist. In conclusion, this study aims to support the implementation of the WFD by drawing conclusions from the analysis of heterogeneous datasets of various member states and by introducing new tools to move towards an integrated European risk assessment of ecological and chemical status.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
von der Ohe, P.C., de Deckere, E., Prüß, A., Muñoz, I., Wolfram, G., Villagrasa, M., Ginebreda, A., Hein, M., Brack, W. (2009):
Toward an integrated assessment of the ecological and chemical status of European river basins
Integr. Environ. Assess. Manag. 5 (1), 50 - 61 10.1897/ieam_2008-043.1