Surface Water Quality Monitoring

Topic report 2/96


Peter Kristensen and Jens Bøgestrand

National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark

European Topic Centre on Inland Waters

January 1996

This report was prepared under the supervision of N. Thyssen, Project Manager,
European Environment Agency

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Together with a report on legislative requirements for water resources monitoring and two other inventories of ongoing water monitoring activities in European countries, this report forms the baseline from which the European Environment Agency (EEA) will be well placed to fulfil its mandate to provide objective, reliable and comparable information for those concerned with framing, implementing and further developing European water policy.

This report provides an overview of the existing water quality monitoring activities in all 18 countries in the EEA area. The study covers all surface waters, i.e. rivers, lakes and reservoirs, as well as coastal and open marine waters, and provides for each country a description of: purposes of monitoring, network design, variables measured and matrices sampled, frequency of sampling, data storage, analysis and reporting .

Nearly all countries have a national monitoring programme to assess the water quality of rivers and to estimate the riverine loading into coastal waters or the loading by transboundary rivers. Most countries have a long tradition in local assessment of river quality based on macro-invertebrates. Fewer countries have national lake monitoring programmes. Information on coastal and marine monitoring programmes is less comprehensive but indicates that in most countries these programmes are less developed than inland water monitoring.

Table of contents





1. Introduction, data and information sources

1.1. Sources of data and information
1.2. Presentation of results

2. Surface Water Quality Monitoring


3. Summary Descriptions of Surface Water Monitoring Activities in Each Country

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and international monitoring programmes

4. Monitoring Programmes

4.1. Chemical and Physical Assessment of River Water Quality
4.2. Biological Assessment of River Quality
4.3. Monitoring of Lakes
4.4. Monitoring of Surface Water Acidification
4.5. Monitoring of Marine Waters
4.6. Organic Micropollution, Radioactivity and Microbiology

5. Conclusions




Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III



This report aims at elaborating an overview of the existing surface water quality monitoring activities in the countries in the European Environment Agency area (the 15 European Union Member States and Iceland and Norway). The study includes all surface waters, ie. rivers, lakes and reservoirs, coastal and open marine waters. The study is limited to the description of monitoring activities containing information of interest at European, Euro-regional, national or large regional level.

The report has been prepared by the National Environmental Research Institute (NERI) of the Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy based on a cost-shared project between the European Environment Agency Task Force of Directorate General XI Environment, Nuclear Safety and Civil Protection and NERI. A first draft report of this project was prepared for the Task Force in 1994 and preparation of the final report has been undertaken as part of project MW2 of the Multiannual Workprogramme 1994-99 of the European Environment Agency. As part of the activities of the European Topic Centre on Inland Waters (ETC/IW) this report has been updated during the spring 1995. With assistance of the ETC/IW partners, NERI has been responsible for the collating, evaluating and reporting of the information.

Opinions and views expressed in the present report are the responsibilty of NERI and they do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission or the European Environment Agency.


The report has been prepared and edited by Peter Kristensen and Jens Bøgestrand, both employed at the National Environmental Research Institute (NERI), Department of Freshwater Ecology. Furthermore, many persons and organisations in many countries (see Chapter 1) have made a great effort in preparation of national description of surface water monitoring activities as well as in commenting the draft version of the report. We would like to thank all contributors to this survey and we appreciate the time and effort spent in this respect.

We are also grateful to Paul Campbell, DGXI; Niels Thyssen, the European Environment Agency; Torben Moth Iversen, NERI; Henning Fjord Aaser, Ringkjøbing County and colleagues of the ETC/IW for their ideas and advice throughout the preparation of the report.

National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark

Contact: P. Kristensen
Frederiksborgvej 399
P.O. Box 358
DK-4000 Roskilde
Telephone: +45 4630 1200
Fax: +45 4630 1212

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