3. summary the UK and international monitoring programmes

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The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a land area of 240,000 km2 and a population of 57 million (1990). The long coastline of the British Isles compared to the land area means that the United Kingdom is dominated by numerous relatively small river systems. Only three river systems, the river Thames, the Severn and the Trent, have a catchment area exceeding 10,000 km2, but comprise only around 7 per cent of the total land area. England and Wales have few natural lakes, while numerous lakes (lochs) can be found in Scotland. The largest lake of the British Isles, Lough Neagh, with a surface area exceeding 300 km2 is located in Northern Ireland. Several estuaries are located along the British coastline; the major ones being the Clyde, the Forth and the Tay on the Scottish coast, and the Severn, the Humber, the Wash, the Thames, the Mersey, the Tyne and the Tees estuaries on the English and Welsh coast. The major seas surrounding the British Isles are the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south, Bristol Channel, St. George Channel, the North Channel, the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.


Monitoring of surface waters

In the United Kingdom the national responsibility for the control of pollution in all inland and coastal waters is divided into three regions: England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

England and Wales: The National Rivers Authority (NRA) is responsible for maintaining and improving water quality and for pollution control, water resources, flood defence and fisheries, navigation, conservation and recreation. The NRA was formed in 1989 from what were, briefly, the ten River Units of the regional Water Authorities in England and Wales. The regional pattern has been retained by NRA, although some mergers have taken place.

Rivers and coastal waters

There has been a long tradition for monitoring the environmental state of English and Welsh surface waters. A series of surveys have been carried out since 1958 in England and Wales with the specific aim of assessing the overall quality of rivers, canals and estuaries. Since 1970 surveys have been carried out at five year intervals. These categorize estuaries into four quality classes, and rivers and canals into six classes.

Scotland: The River Purification Authorities (RPA's), comprising the seven River Purification Boards and the three Islands Councils are responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of the water environment and for water pollution control.

Rivers and coastal waters

The Scottish RPBs have a well-established network of monitoring stations, many having data records covering more than 20 years and some even more than 30 years. More than 1,000 river stations are sampled monthly or quarterly with a view to chemical analyses, and biological surveys are carried out at more than 900 sites. Fifty six river stations of the Harmonised Monitoring System are located in Scotland. Marine pollution monitoring is carried out at several hundred sites and at varying depth in estuarine and coastal waters.

In Scotland surveys similar to those in England and Wales have been carried out since 1968. The surveys assess the overall quality of rivers, canals and estuaries with a separate biological survey being carried out in 1980 and 1990. The chemical surveys comprise approx. 2800 river sites.

Northern Ireland: The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland (DoE(NI)) is responsible for water quality and pollution control, water resources and conservation.

Rivers and coastal waters

DoE(NI) monitors both river and coastal waters. River quality monitoring has on a routine basis been carried out in Northern Ireland since 1973. In 1994, approx. 290 river quality monitoring sites were sampled regularly and the samples analyzed for up to 18 variables such as Biochemical Oxygen Demand, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, suspended solids, etc. Quantity and quality data are kept in a computer database and information is published for public information.

The major monitoring activities in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been compiled to provide a national overview of surface water monitoring programmes in the United Kingdom (Table 3.15). Other activities exist, including monitoring of coastal areas by NRA, monitoring of radioactivity by MAFF and several programmes arising from EU directives.


Rivers and canals

Three monitoring programmes are focused on assessment of the environmental state of rivers and canals (R1-R3). The R1 Harmonised Monitoring Programme is a national archive of water quality data maintained by the Department of Environment aimed at providing information on rivers throughout the United Kingdom and satisfying certain international obligations, including the estimation of riverborne input of selected contaminants to the sea. The data are also used to investigate long-term trends in main determinands. The sampling network includes 230 sites, mainly located on major rivers at, or near, the tidal limit. The programme was established in 1974 and is based on sampling and chemical analyses made in the various NRA regions and RPBs. The sampling frequency varies substantially, but it typically lies within the range of 6 to 52 per year. The monitoring programme may embrace a wide range - over 80 - of physical and chemical attributes of river quality, but typically only 25 are measured at any given site. A number of determinands are measured as standards, but a larger proportion is monitored only if considered necessary.

The objectives of the R2 monitoring programme are to accurately assess and regularly report on the general state of rivers and canals regardless of the use to which waters may be put. The network includes approximately 92,500 km of rivers and more than 10,000 sampling sites. Sampling sites are classified according to a General Quality Assessment (GQA) scheme. Chemical quality assessment is based on the organic pollution indicators: BOD5, dissolved oxygen and ammoniacal nitrogen. Additional variables are measured and have an associated long time series of data, and further 'windows' of quality assessment based on some of these variables will be added, covering biology, nutrients and aesthetic quality. The objectives of the R3 monitoring programme are to assess the biological quality of rivers and canals by the use of macroinvertebrates. Sampling sites are assigned an index value according to the Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) score system. The chemical programme, R2, and the biological programme, R3, are complementary.


Lakes and reservoirs

No general national lake monitoring programme exists. Many lakes in the United Kingdom have been monitored and classified as a part of associated river systems. Monitoring of reservoirs and other lakes has been carried out mainly on an ad hoc basis according to local needs and circumstances. The objectives of the L1 monitoring programme are to assess and monitor the occurrence of potentially toxic blue-green algae.


Marine waters

The purposes of the main national marine monitoring programme, M1, are to assess the spatial distribution of contaminants in different areas of UK waters and their biological state and thus identify areas of specific concern; to detect trends in contaminant concentrations and biological well-being in areas identified as being of concern; to measure long-term trends in physical, biological and chemical variables at selected areas. The network includes 100 sites in estuaries, inshore and offshore coastal areas around the UK with sampling of the water column, the sediment and the biota and measurements of various contaminants.

Table 3.15: National surface water monitoring programmes in the United Kingdom.

No. Name Responsible institution Variables Period of operation &
Sampling Frequency (SF)
Geographical coverage Data & reporting
Rivers and streams
R1 The Harmonised Monitoring Programme DoE, NRA

SOEnD, RPB

over 80 physical and chemical attributes of river quality, but typically only 25 are measured at any given site Many sites since 1975
SF: 6-52/yr
A national network covering Great Britain
220-230 sampling sites
 
R2 General Quality Assessment (GQA)
Chemical assessment of rivers, canals and lochs
NRA
SOEnD, RPB
DoE(NI)
OX, OXSAT, BOD5, NH4N, and variables appropriate to the stretch in question Since 1976
SF: 12/yr (4-24/yr)
England & Wales:
40,000 km of rivers and canals, approx. 7,000 sites
Scotland:
50,000 km of rivers and canals, approx. 2800 sites
Northern Ireland:
2,500 km of rivers, approx. 290 sites
Database: NRA, SOEnD, DoE(NI)

Reporting: NRA, SOEnD, DoE(NI)

R3 General Quality Assessment (GQA)

Biological classification of rivers

NRA

SOEnD, RPB

DoE(NI)

macroinvertebrates Start year: 1990

Every 5 year two or three annual samples

England & Wales:
40,000 km of rivers and canals, approx. 7,000 sites
Scotland:
11,000 km of rivers, 976 sampling sites
Northern Ireland: 2,500 km of rivers, approx. 290 sites
Database: NRA, SOEnD, DoE(NI)

Reporting: NRA, SOEnD, DoE(NI)

Lakes and reservoirs
L1 Blue-green Algae Annual Sampling Programme NRA
DoE(NI)
Blue-green algae, water samples, bloom and/or scum material England & Wales:
Start year 1989
Routine sampling and reactive sampling
Northern Ireland:
1993: Routine monitoring programme
From 1994: only reactive monitoring
Scotland:
Routine monitoring
England & Wales:
NRA regions
Northern Ireland:
1993: 52 water abstractions and 17 recreational waters.
Scotland:
Waters considered to be at risk.
Data held by NRA & DoE(NI), no public report
L2 Monitoring of inland waters commonly used for recreation DoE(NI) Microbiological indicators & blue-green algae Since 1992
SF: 5/yr
Northern Ireland
14 waterbodies, 31 sites
Data held by DoE (NI), no public report
Coastal and marine areas
M1 UK National (Marine) Monitoring Plan
(UK NMP)
MPMMG Organic & inorganic variables in water column, sediment, shellfish & fish Data from at least 1988
SF: water 1-4/yr,
sediment 1/yr,
biota 1-2/yr
Approx. 100 sites in the upper, middle and lower reaches of estuaries, inshore and offshore coastal sites around the UK Central database
being developed
No UK report,
Data passed to the North Sea Task Force
M2 Water classification of estuaries SOEnD, RPB
NRA
DoE(NI)
Use related descriptions, aesthetic, biological, bacteriological, and chemical conditions Start year 1985
Every 5 year
SF: 4/yr, variable in Scotland
All Scottish estuaries exceeding 1 km
28 estuaries in England and Wales
All 7 N.Ireland sea loughs and estuaries
Database: SOEnD, NRA, DoE(NI)
Reporting: SOEnD, NRA, DoE(NI)
M3 Classification of coastal waters SOEnD, RPB Use-related descriptions, aesthetic, biological, bacteriological, and chemical conditions Start year 1990
Every 5 years
SF: variable
Coastal waters of Scotland
Approx 7,000 km length
Database: SOEnD, NRA, DoE(NI)
Reporting: SOEnD, NRA, DoE(NI)
M4 Marine Algae Monitoring Programme NRA
DoE(NI)
Marine Algae Since 1991

Weekly from May to September

England & Wales:
615 identified and non-identified bathing waters
Northern Ireland:
16 identified and
10 non-identified bathing waters
Summary data held nationally
Annual internal report
M5 Monitoring of Bathing waters. NRA, RPBs Bacteria, organic pollution 20 times a year during the bathing season 460 bathing waters in England + Wales(421), Scotland(23), and N.Ireland(16) Annual reporting
M6 Water Quality of Shellfish Waters. NRA Heavy metals, organic micropollutants SF: Variable 2-12/yr 29 shellfish waters Annual reporting

DoE: Department of Environment; NRA: National River Authority, England and Wales; SOEnD: The Scottish Office Environment Department; RPB: River Purification Boards, Scotland; DoE(NI): Department of Environment, Northern Ireland; MPMMG: Marine Pollution Management Monitoring Group;


International monitoring programmes

Several international monitoring programmes are in operation in the European Environment Agency area. Some monitoring programmes are operated by international organizations, such as the Commission of European Commissions (CEC), the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the OECD, and are primarily based on collection of results from national monitoring activities, the results being used for global and regional analysis and reporting.

Countries situated in the catchments of transboundary rivers and lakes or countries sharing marine areas usually establish some form of environmental cooperation as is the case with, for example, the Danube, the Rhine, Lake Constance, Lake Geneva, the Baltic, the North Sea, the North East Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Generally, such cooperation has resulted in the establishment of a monitoring programme covering the specific waterbody.

In the following sections some of the main international monitoring programmes are briefly described. Generally, the monitoring activities are numerous and cover many purposes and include therefore several sampling networks and analysis programmes. Additionally, the monitoring programmes are continuously changing according to the environmental issues in question. More detailed information about the monitoring programmes may be obtained from the responsible organizations.


Inland surface water monitoring programmes

European Union river network (EU-R1)

Council Decision no 77/795/EEC of 12 November 1977 established a common procedure for the exchange of information on the quality of surface fresh water, the three principle objectives of which are: (1) to determine the levels of pollutants in the rivers of the community and consequently lay down guidelines for the control of pollutants and nuisances; (2) to monitor long-term trends and improvements resulting from the application of current national and Community legislation; (3) to allow for as significant a comparison as possible of the results of the measurements obtained at the sampling or measuring station.

One hundred and twentysix sampling sites mainly situated in large Member State rivers are included in the exchange of information. The number of sampling sites vary from one sampling site in Luxembourg to four sampling sites in Denmark and Ireland, and 15, 16 and 17 sampling sites in Spain, France and the United Kingdom, respectively. At the selected sampling sites each country takes water samples at monthly intervals and analyses these for general chemical and physical variables. Each Member State must send to the Commission data relating to certain physical (eg. water flow, pH, and conductivity, etc.), chemical (eg. organic pollution indicators, nutrients, heavy metals, etc.) and microbiological variables (eg. coliforms, streptococi bacteria, etc.). Every three years the Commission analyzes the information supplied and prepares a report.

GEMS/WATER

The Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS) is a collective effort of the world community to acquire, through monitoring, the data needed for assessment and rational management of the environment at global, regional and national level. GEMS/WATER, the network of surface and ground water quality monitoring stations, was established jointly in 1977 by UNEP, WHO, WMO and UNESCO. On a world-wide basis 60 countries currently participate in the GEMS/WATER programme, the global network including about 360 surface water sampling sites. GEMS/WATER has two main objectives; global water quality assessment and strengthening of the national water quality programmes. The GEMS/WATER programme includes 31 water quality variables. Each country provides information on as many as variables as possible to the global databank. The collected information is analyzed and reported as global or regional assessments of water quality, an important result being the first assessment of water pollution issues on a global scale published in 1989 (Meybeck et al. 1989)

Table 3.16: International inland surface water monitoring programmes.

No. Name Responsible institution Variables Period of operation & Sampling Frequency (SF) Geographical coverage Data & reporting
Rivers and streams
EU-R1 EU river network.
Exchange of information
Council Decision no 77/795/EEC 1977
CEC
and Member States
18 physical, chemical, and microbiological variables Since 1977
Portigal and Spain from 1986
SF: monthly samples
Large rivers in the EU Member States

126 sampling sites

Database: CEC
Reporting: every three years by the CEC
  Global Environment Monitoring System
GEMS /Water
WHO & UNEP GEMS/WATER
Collaborating Centre
Canada
Major ions (7)
Metals (12)
Nutrients (3)
Organic micropollutants (5)
Basic variables (4)
Since 1977 60 countries, world-wide, currently participate in the GEMS/WATER programme and around 360 surface water sampling sites are included  
  OECD OECD     Rivers in the member countries. Reporting every 5 years by OECD
R-R1 Rhine ICPRP Water: 61 chemical and physical variables
Suspended solids: 30 chemical and physical variables
Since
SF: Water 12/yr to continious
Suspended solids 12-24/yr
9 sampling sites on the main course of the river Rhine Database: ICPRP

Reporting annually by ICPRP

  Elbe ICPE 10 heavy metals,
16 organic micropollutants and
5 biological variables
  16 sampling sites Database: ICPE
Reporting: ICPE
  Danube
Bucharest Declaration
  Chemical and physical variables.
Nutrients, heavy metals, organic micropollutants and petroleum products
Specific surveys performed in 1991-92.
Since 1988 11 sites  
Lakes and reservoirs
  Lake Constance/Bodensee IKGB Eutrophication variables, oxygen, major ions, heavy metals, organic micropollutants, radionuclides
Hydrobiological and microbiological variables (phyto- & zooplankton, bacteria)
  Lake Constance
3 water sampling sites
 
  Lake Geneva/Lac Léman ICPGP Water quality variables including eutrophication variables, heavy metals and organic micropollutants
Hydrobiological and microbiological variables.
Sediment monitoring
  Lake Geneva
1 water sampling site &
200 sediment sampling sites
 

CEC: Commission of European Communities;
IKGB: International Gewässerschutz-Kommission für den Bodensee/International Commission for Protection of Lake Constance;
ICPGP: International Commission for Protection of Lake Geneve against Pollution
ICPRP: International Commission for Protection of the Rhine against Pollution;
ICPE: International Commission for Protection of the Elbe

OECD

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has since the 1970s collected annual average water quality data from large rivers and lakes in the Member States. The results from this inventory are reported every five years in the OECD Environmental Statistical Compendium. In the 1995 Statistical Compendium data for the period 1980 to 1993 from 138 rivers in 28 countries and 92 lakes in 25 countries was reported.

Transboundary rivers and lakes

The integrated management of transboundary water courses takes place in Europe within the framework of international commissions as far as entire river basins are concerned or bilaterally for waters forming the border to another country. A few international monitoring programmes are described in Table 3.16, while some bilateral monitoring programmes are described in the previous sections.

The R-R1 monitoring programme for the Rhine is one of the longest operating monitoring activities in the world. It is coordinated by the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine against Pollution (ICPRP) and includes nine sampling sites along the main course of the river Rhine. At these sampling sites the involved countries, ie. Switzerland, Germany, France and The Netherlands, perform a standardized sampling and analysis programme including measurements of around 60 water quality variables. The results of the monitoring are reported annually by the ICPRP. Several other large transboundary rivers have similar international monitoring programmes, examples being monitoring of the Elbe and the Danube (Table 3.16). Prominent examples of the monitoring of transboundary lakes include Lake Constance and Lake Geneva. The programmes are carried out in compliance with the policy of the International Commission for Protection of Lake Constance and the International Commission for Protection of Lake Geneva against Pollution.


Marine monitoring programmes.

OSPARCOM

The Oslo Convention (Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft (1974)) and the Paris Convention (Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources (1978)) provide the regulatory framework for the protection against pollution of the maritime area of the North East Atlantic. The Commissions established by the Conventions carry out programmes to assess the state of the marine environment and formulate policies to eliminate or reduce existing pollution and prevent further contamination of coastal waters and the open sea.

Under the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) established by the OSPARCOM in 1978, Contracting Parties undertake the monitoring of the marine environment for the following purposes: (a) assessment of possible hazards to public health; (b) assessment of damage to living resources and marine life; (c) assessment of the existing level of marine pollution (geographical baseline studies); (d) assessment of the effectiveness of the measures taken to reduce marine pollution within the framework of the Conventions (trend monitoring). Depending on the purpose, each assessment is based on regular monitoring of one of several components of the marine environment: organisms, seawater and sediments.

North Sea Task Force

Members of the Task Force include the eight North Sea States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) as well as representatives of the Commission of European Communities, ICES (the International Council for Exploration of the Sea) and the OSPARCOM (the Oslo and Paris Commissions). The objectives of the Task Force are: "to carry out work leading, in a reasonable time scale, to a defendable and comprehensive statement of circulation patterns, inputs and dispersion of contaminants, ecological conditions and effects of human activities in the North Sea".

The Monitoring Master Plan of the North Sea Task Force (MMP) was formulated in 1989. The plan is a constituent part of the JMP, but with the next Quality Status Report in mind, it includes provision for more comprehensive monitoring. The MMP has two main objectives: firstly, to provide the information necessary to assess the condition of the North Sea, and secondly, to provide the basis for future programmes that will permit temporal trends in physical, chemical and biological variables to be assessed.

Monitoring sites were selected in order to cover the open North Sea and the coastal areas where transects have been placed in front of the main estuaries. As a core programme to be used on an international scale, the MMP aims at coordinating both chemical and biological monitoring throughout the North Sea area. The mandatory list of determinands to be monitored under the MMP includes metals, organic micropollutants, nutrients and related interpretation variables such as salinity and grain size distribution. The concentration and spatial distribution were measured in sediments as well as in biota, and to a less extent in sea water. A voluntary list of items to be measured wherever possible includes additional chemical and biological variables to be monitored in relation to eutrophication phenomena. The biological part of the MMP includes studies of zoobenthos in relation to contaminant sources, fish diseases, introduction of a detoxification enzyme (EROD) in flatfish livers, and a water quality assay using oyster embryos.

HELCOM

The Baltic Monitoring Programme coordinated by the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) has been operating since 1979 and focus on the input of harmful substances to the Baltic Sea. In 1988 the participating countries adopted the Declaration on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, which prescribes a substantive reduction, in the order of 50%, of the anthropogenic load of pollutants, especially the substance groups heavy metals, toxic or persistent organic compounds and nutrients, as soon as possible but not later than 1995.

In order to follow the state and trends of the Baltic Sea area and to get detailed descriptions of the loading, the monitoring programme includes monitoring in both marine areas and rivers. Nine countries around the Baltic Sea area contributes to the programme.

MED POL

The long-term programme in pollution monitoring and research in the Mediterranean, MED-POL, was initiated in the 1970s. First with a pilot phase mainly focused on an assessment of the pollution load reaching the Mediterranean. Monitoring of the Mediterranean pollution within the framework of MED POL started in 1983 through the implementation of National Monitoring Programmes and at present 16 countries have on-going programmes. The monitoring activities can be divided into the following groups (1) monitoring of sources of pollution providing information on the type and amount of pollutants released directly into the environment; (2) monitoring of nearshore areas, including estuaries, under the direct influence of pollutants from identifiable primary (direct point sources) and secondary (rivers) sources; (3) monitoring of offshore areas (reference areas) providing information on the general trend in the level of pollution in the Mediterranean; (4) monitoring of the transport of pollutants to the Mediterranean through the atmosphere. Through this programme pollution is regularly monitored at hundreds of sampling sites. Further information can be found in Jeftic (1993) in which a review of the MED POL monitoring activities can be found.

Table 3.17 : International marine monitoring programmes.

No. Name Responsible institution Variables Period of operation &
Sampling Frequency (SF)
Geographical
coverage
Data &
reporting
Coastal and marine areas
  OSPARCOM
Joint Monitoring Programme
(JMP)
OSPARCOM, ICES,
11 countries:
IS, IE, UK, NO, DK, DE, NL, BE, FR, ES, PT
  Since 1978 North East Atlantic  
  North Sea Task Force
Monitoring Master Plan (MMP)
NSTF, ICES,
8 countries:
BE, DE, DK, FR, NL, NO, SE, & UK
  Since 1989 The North Sea  
  HELCOM
Baltic Monitoring Programme
(BMP)
HELCOM, 9 countries:
SE, FI, RU, EST, LAT, LIT, POL, DE, DK
Variables related to input and level of harmful substances, especially heavy metals, organic micropollutants and nutrients. Since 1979 The Baltic Sea  
  MED-POL UNEP/MED-POL & 16 countries (1) monitoring of sources of pollution providing information on the type and amount of pollutants released directly into the environment;
(2) monitoring of nearshore areas, including estuaries, under the direct influence of pollutants from identifiable primary (direct point sources) and secondary (rivers) sources;
(3) monitoring of offshore areas (reference areas) providing information on the general trend in the level of pollution in the Mediterranean;
(4) monitoring of the transport of pollutants to the Mediterranean through the atmosphere.
  Mediterranean  

CEC: Commission of European Communities; OSPARCOM: Oslo and Paris Commissions; NSTF: North Sea Task Force;
HELCOM: Helsinki Commission; BE: Belgium; DE: Germany; DK: Denmark; ES: Spain; EST: Estonia; FI: Finland; FR: France; ICES: The International Council for Exploration of the Sea; IE: Ireland; IS: Iceland; LAT: Latvia; LIT: Lithuania; NL: The Netherlands NO: Norway; POL: Poland; PT: Portugal; RU: Russia; SE: Sweden; UK: United Kingdom;

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