Personal tools

next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Publications / European Freshwater Monitoring Network Design / 6. Existing Sources of Monitoring Information

6. Existing Sources of Monitoring Information

6. EXISTING SOURCES OF MONITORING INFORMATION

Member States monitor water resources according to their national requirements (e.g. legal and operational) and international obligations (e.g. European Commission (EC) directives and International Agreements). The information arising from this monitoring is potentially a major source for the EEA.

The monitoring requirements associated with International Agreements and EC directives have been reviewed by the ETC/IW (Nixon et al 1996). The extent to which the information from this monitoring meets the needs of the EEA not only depends on how Member States implement and report the requirements of directives but also on the objectives of the directives. Existing national monitoring programmes have been discussed in Section 5 and have been inventoried and summarised by the ETC/IW: surface water quality (Kristensen and Bøgestrand 1996), surface water quantity, (Rees et al 1996) and groundwater quality and quantity (Koreimann et al 1996).

Although national monitoring networks are designed to meet their national and international obligations, statutory or otherwise, they also must meet other needs and objectives. For example, general surveillance data from a larger proportion (compared to that required by international statutory requirements) of the total national water resource may be required. Operational data, often at a sub-catchment level, may also be needed, for example, to monitor the impact of specific discharges on water quality. There will be obvious benefit, where possible, in replicating the purpose of sampling points and also in usage of the information obtained. It is likely, therefore, that monitoring networks associated with directive and international obligations will not represent the total monitoring networks of individual nations. For surveillance purposes, sample sites may be located in relation to changes in water quality, perhaps associated with point discharges or tributaries. Where there are gradual rather than discrete changes of quality, for example along a river, the optimum number of sample locations needed to define overall quality would be quantified through an assessment of the spatial and temporal variability of the determinants of interest in that river.


6.1 Monitoring required under EC directives

There are four types of directive used by the EC to control pollution of water. These are related to specific uses (e.g. Freshwater Fish Directive, 78/659/EEC) industry sectors (e.g. Titanium Dioxide Directive, 82/883/EEC), substances (e.g. Dangerous Substances Directive 76/464/EEC) and products (e.g. Detergents Directive, 73/404/EEC). With the exception of the products directives, most of these directives require the implementation of monitoring, either routine programmes or preliminary investigations.

The requirements made in directives have been designed largely independently from each other. The Commission has, however, taken some initiatives to harmonise monitoring requirements and reporting of results in the Exchange of Information Decision (77/795/EEC as amended by Directive 86/574/EEC) and in the reporting of implementation of certain directives as specified in the Reporting Decision (92/446/EEC).

There are 15 directives that require monitoring of fresh surface waters. Several of the requirements are not, however, for routine monitoring:

  • the Drinking Water Directive (80/778/EEC) only requires monitoring of the source before exploitation;
  • the Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) requires monitoring initially and then every four years to identify areas requiring protection: and,
  • the Urban Waste Water Treatment (UWWT) Directive (91/271/EEC) (as for the Nitrates Directive.

Routine monitoring is required by:

  • the Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC);
  • the Dangerous Substances Directives (76/464/EEC);
  • the Titanium Dioxide Directive (82/883/EEC);
  • the Freshwater Fish Directive (78/659/EEC);
  • the Exchange of Information Decisions (77/795/EEC and 86/778/EEC).

Therefore, the degree of coverage that water quality data encompasses within each country will be determined by national designations and the prevalence of the industries discharges that are required to be regulated.

Examples of the limitations of the information required by these Directives are given below.


6.1.1 Reporting Directive

An example of the type of information provided by the Reporting Directive is the questionnaire for the Dangerous Substance and daughter directives. The questionnaire primarily requests information on numbers of authorisations for direct discharges into surface waters and sewers of List I substances and on the emission standards used for controlling direct discharges into surface waters and sewers. Information is also required on the monitoring stations used to monitor the impact of authorised discharges with annual average concentrations of the substance in the receiving waters, sediment and biota. Member States are due to complete the Reporting Directive questionnaires for the 1993 to 1995 period by September 1996 when a fuller assessment of the value of the information can be made.


6.1.2 Exchange of Information Decisions

The Exchange of Information Decisions (77/95/EEC and 86/574/EEC) established a common procedure for the exchange of information on the quality of freshwater. According to the Decisions, Member States measure 19 specified physical, chemical, microbiological and biological stations at 126 stations, located mainly on the large rivers (75 rivers) of Europe, and report the information to the European Commission each year. The Commission publishes a summary of the reported data which aim to provide surveillance type information every three years. Five EEA countries do not yet provide information under its auspices. The criteria by which rivers and sites are selected (other than large national rivers) are not specified in the Decisions and hence there are national differences in the selection procedure and the sites/rivers may not always be representative of general water quality in a country. The European States currently exchanging information under these decisions are listed in Table 6.1.

The main disadvantage of using just this information for EEA purposes appears to be that the rivers (and other water bodies) are not based on a representative sample of a country’s large rivers, (by national standards) and could be biased towards the poorer end of the spectrum of qualities. In addition small rivers are not covered and other water quality issues (e.g. acidification) would not be addressed by this information. However the monitoring and reporting network is in place and States would be readily able to provide information for use by the Agency. If this route was developed then further work would be needed to ensure that submitted data were comparable: at present it is known that there are problems with the information exchanged (Kristensen and Codling, 1995). In addition, supportive information on human activities e.g. land-use, population density and catchment details would be required for the exploration of possible cause/effect relationships.

This database has now been merged with the rivers database created by the Agency’s Task Force for the Dobríš assessment report. Though not all sites contained within the database will be relevant to the current EEA area, those sites that are could also be assessed for their representativeness.


Table 6.1 Number of sampling stations in each Member State from which information is required by the Decision and from which information was exchanged during the period 1990 - 1992.


Member State

Number of stations specified in the Decision

Number of rivers* specified in the Decision

Number of stations from which information was exchanged


1990

1991

1992

Belgium (B)

9

7

9

9

-

Denmark (DK)

4

4

4

4

4

Spain (E)

15

5

12

15

15

France (F)

16

5

16

16

16

Germany (DE)

12

8

12

12

12

Greece (GR)

6

6

6

6

6

Ireland (IRL)

4

4

4

4

4

Italy (I)

16

5

16

16

16

Luxembourg(L)

1

1

1

1

1

Netherlands (NL)

13

10

13

13

13

Portugal (PT)

13

7

13

13

13

United Kingdom (UK)

17

13

17

17

17


TOTAL

126

75

123

126

117

* taken to river systems/catchments



6.1.3 Freshwater Fish Directive

The EC has recently produced a report on the Freshwater Fish Directive (COM 1995a). The directive requires a national summary of:

  • total number of designations of salmonid and cyprinid fisheries and how many of those comply with the standards associated with the directive.
  • total length of rivers and area of lakes designated and complying with the directive's requirements.
  • total area of lakes designated/complying.

Fourteen parameters are required to be monitored but no numerical data are required to be reported to the Commission. Table 6.2 summarises Member State’s implementation of the requirements of the directive. It shows that the information on salmonid and cyprinid fishery designations has been presented in 3 ways: as numbers, as percentages (of totals) and as lengths of river. Similarly some monitor all 14 parameters whereas others do not indicate which parameters are monitored or monitor different sized sub-sets. It will, therefore, be difficult to compare designations between States and there will be no quantitative information on the status of designated waters.


6.1.4 Bathing Water Directive

Information on the Bathing Water Directive is reported annually to the Commission and reports on national bathing water quality are produced by the EC. A summary of the information provided to the Commission on inland waters for 1994 is given in Table 6.3 (COM 1995b). National reports are able to be given but there is very little scope for comparison between Member States because of differences in how waters have been designated as bathing waters, in which parameters have been measured and in the number of samples taken to demonstrate compliance or otherwise.


Table 6.2 Summary of implementation of the Fisheries Directive in EU12 Member States (COM1995a)

B

DK

D

GR

ES

F

IRL

I

L

NL

PT

UK

Implemented

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Salmonid

25

49%

147

9

27

294

33

6

12

2

?

50,400 km

Cyprinid

130

30%

189

16

113

120

-

2

3

352

?

5,600 km

Parameters monitored

ND

All?

Sub-set

Core of 8

ND

ND

Core of 7

ND

All?

Core of 10

ND

All?

Reported

1

1

1

1

0

0

2

0

3

4

0

2

Notes:

B Belgium DK Denmark D Germany GR Greece

ES Spain F France IRL Ireland I Italy

L Luxembourg NL Netherlands PT Portugal UK United Kingdom

Implemented: Have the requirements of the directive been implemented into national legislation

Salmonid: Designations as salmonid rivers

Cyprinid: Designations as cyprinid rivers

Parameters monitored: Parameters given in directive

Reported: Number of times reported to European Commission



Table 6.3 Summary of Member States' reporting of requirements of the Bathing Waters Directive to the European Commission in 1994. (Number of samples taken as percentage of that required for assessment of compliance).

Be

DK

D

GR

E

F

IRL

I

L

NL

P

UK

No sampling points

86

110

1915

4

310

1666

9

679

20

523

24

0

Total coliforms

91

96

58

100

100

91

100

98

85

22

79

--

Faecal coliforms

92

98

59

100

100

91

100

99

85

54

79

--

Faecal streptococci

95

19

11

100

79

99

89

100

55

6

83

--

Salmonella

64

0

28

0

56

4

33

30

0

2

79

--

Enteroviruses

0

0

3

0

29

0

0

1

0

0

0

--

pH

88

0

81

0

74

64

89

100

85

73

50

--

Colour

81

87

51

100

100

13

100

98

85

22

75

--

Mineral oils

87

98

56

100

100

35

100

99

85

23

79

--

Surface-active substances

88

98

55

100

100

34

100

99

85

30

46

--

Phenols

73

97

54

100

100

32

100

99

85

39

71

--

Transparency

88

0

49

0

100

24

100

98

70

37

4

--

Dissolved oxygen

53

0

23

0

44

14

56

100

85

37

0

--

Floating materials

88

81

41

100

68

3

56

0

85

32

71

--

Notes

B Belgium DK Denmark D Germany GR Greece

ES Spain F France IRL Ireland I Italy

L Luxembourg NL Netherlands PT Portugal UK United Kingdom



6.1.5 Suitability for status assessment

As illustrated above the information required by the European Commission from Member States is primarily for assessing implementation of and compliance with directives rather than for the provision of information on the general status or quality of water resources. It is this latter type of information, provided in a comparable way from a representative sample of Europe's water resources, that is required. Information from directives is not suitable as:

  1. The data are not comparable because the degree of comparability will depend on the interpretation of the designation rules and national differences of how these are implemented.
  2. The data are not representative because in the directives which require routine monitoring the requirements are generally site specific, either at sites designated for a specific use, sites affected by a specific discharge, or, for the Exchange of Information Decisions, agreed sites in main rivers. As the choice of sampling location is, for some directives, related to areas designated by the Member States rather than by the European Commission, it is unlikely that, for those directives, a comparison of quality across Europe of these designated waters will give a complete picture of quality.

Even for the Exchange of Information Decision where sites are supposed to be selected on the same basis the information is not representative because only large rivers are included.


6.2 International agreements

There are a large number of international agreements concerning surface waters, however, not all of these make monitoring requirements. Many agreements aim to protect a specific water body and are made between countries within the catchment of that water body. For large rivers and seas this can involve many countries, for example, the agreements made at the North Sea Conferences are made between all countries bordering the North Sea, i.e., Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK. By contrast, there are many agreements which exist between just two countries. Thus the scope of application for international commitments varies greatly.

There are also other international organisations that some, if not all, EEA Member States are members of, or co-operate with, that either instigate monitoring programmes, or collect, collate, report and disseminate national monitoring data and information. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has developed a questionnaire on the State of the Environment which since 1988 has been jointly presented with that from EUROSTAT. Before 1992 the OECD concentrated on water abstraction and water consumption (with little breakdown by activities), pollution connected to sewage treatment plants, total polluted water discharged (without reference to its origin), and data on surface water quality for sample stations at the borders of Member States. In addition, EUROSTAT collects data on water quality indicators for selected rivers and lakes. In the last revision of the now joint EUROSTAT/OECD questionnaire on inland waters (during 1990-1991) more detailed questions on water resources and wastewater treatment were added. In the questions concerning water abstraction, consumption and discharge, a limited breakdown into activities has been added and determinants have been redefined.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (unece) has promoted international co-operation on water issues for over four decades. To meet the dual challenges of sustainable use of water and maintenance of acceptable environmental quality, the unece has adopted a number of declarations and decisions resulting from the work of its committee on water problems. These declarations and decisions are intended to provide guidance to UNECE member governments in formulating and implementing water management policies and should assist in fostering co-operation among unece Member States. The unece has recently developed (1992) the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. The Convention has been signed by 25 European countries as well as by the EU, and will come into force 90 days after it has been ratified by 16 of these countries. The European Commission has made a proposal for a Council Decision (COM(93)271 final), which, if adopted would ratify the Union’s signature of the Convention. The Convention will require establishment of programmes for monitoring the conditions of transboundary waters, surface and groundwaters.

For international agreements sample location is generally related to the purpose of the agreement (e.g. monitoring transboundary water transfer) often being at designated or fixed sites. For example, designated sites are specified for the sampling of water, biota and sediment under the Helsinki Convention, and at fixed stations under the Rhine Convention, the Protocol for Technical Co-operation between Greece and Bulgaria, and the Treaty between Austria and Hungary on Water Economy. Other agreements are less specific about sampling location, perhaps being determined by the research or information needs of the signatories or research programme (e.g. the North Sea Task Force). For many agreements signatory states also have to decide upon exact locations, perhaps within guidelines provided by the relevant Commission, for example, as in the quantification of riverine loads for the Paris Commission. The sampling frequency specified in international agreements is also very variable within agreements and between agreements.

Information from International Agreements will be of use to the EEA. However:

  • to be of use data will have to be comparable between the different agreements;
  • data will represent only those waters covered in the agreements that is the major water bodies/catchments in Europe.

   
 

Geographic coverage

Document Actions

Comments

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100