1. Introduction, data and information sources

The European continent has several million kilometers of flowing water, more than a million lakes, and a long coastline, each having their own characteristics and, perhaps, environmental problems. An assessment of the general environmental state of European surface waters will be a compilation and aggregation of a huge amount of information. Such an assessment may be used to identify areas with severe environmental problems, to provide a basis for identification and assessment of environmental threats at regional and global levels, to provide information necessary to ensure that society develops in an environmentally sustainable way, and to enable general actions to be taken to improve the environmental state of the waterbodies.

Reliable high quality information about the environmental state of surface waters is essential for water management and implementation of optimal measures to improve environmental quality. Greater knowledge of water quality at the regional and European level is needed if European management of surface waters is to be improved. The reports "Europe's Environment - the Dobris assessment" (EEA 1995) and "European rivers and lakes - assessment of their environmental state" (EEA 1994) provided the first attempts to assess the environmental state of European surface waters. These reports included only a small part of the considerable quantities of environmental information currently produced. Moreover, the findings were based on heterogeneous information and not always directly comparable data as a consequence of, for instance, differences in the design of monitoring networks, variables selected, and analytical methods used. It is stated in the reports that the assessment could be significantly improved if more information could be included and measures were implemented to ensure consistency and comparability.

Considerable environmental information on European surface waters is currently collected and reported by various regional and national authorities. However, an overview of valuable information does not exist. In Europe local and regional authorities have traditionally been responsible for managing and monitoring the quality of surface waters. The activities were initiated in the 1960s and 1970s and were improved by the implementation of more and more monitoring activities and an increasing number of sampling sites during the 1980s. As the public demand for a cleaner environment and awareness of water quality issues increased during the late 1970s and 1980s the need for national and regional information on the environmental state of surface waters also increased. This situation led to the need for implementation of national surface water monitoring programmes. Many countries organized and established national aquatic monitoring programmes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Nearly all countries in the EEA area have now, for instance, a national monitoring programme with the purpose of assessing the chemical and physical conditions of rivers. Various marine monitoring activities have also been coordinated, standardized and harmonized to be included in national marine monitoring programmes.

The results from these national and large regional surface water monitoring programmes may form the basis of a surface water quality information system in the EEA area. The first step is to work out an overview of the existing data sources on the environmental state of European surface waters. This report is a part of this process and aims at elaborating an overview of the existing surface water monitoring activities in the countries in the EEA area (the current 15 EU Member States plus 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 data sources containing information of interest at European, Euro-regional, national or large regional level (Länder, water boards, etc.). The report includes a description of the national and large regional surface monitoring programmes in each country. Similar monitoring programmes have been put together and similarities and differences according to network set-up, sampling frequency and variables measured have been analyzed.

On the basis of the report and additional analyses, a European surface water information system may be elaborated, including criteria for incorporating national monitoring sites into the international network, proposals for harmonization and standardization of sampling and variables to be analyzed, and ideas for information processing from the national level to EEA level. Such a system should be established in close cooperation with the participating countries.

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 Commission of the European Community (CEC) and NERI. In December 1993 the CEC, DGXI.B1 and EEA-TF, respectively, entered into a contract with NERI. A draft report of this project was prepared in November 1994. As part of the activities of the European Topic Centre on Inland Waters (ETC/IW) this report has during the spring 1995 been updated. NERI has with assistance of ETC/IW partners been responsible for collating, evaluating and reporting the information.

1.1 Sources of data and information

The data and information in this report are based on:

  • nationally prepared descriptions of major surface waters and the administrative organization of surface water quality monitoring (involved organizations, responsibilities, coordination, reporting, data storage, etc.),
  • national descriptions of major national and large regional surface water monitoring programmes,
  • various national and regional state of the environment and technical reports, and
  • scientific literature on monitoring of surface waters.

The National Environmental Research Institute (NERI), Denmark, started working on the project in January 1994. During the spring NERI produced a list of elements to be studied by each Member State and also worked on case studies of monitoring activities in Ireland and Denmark. A draft report describing the Irish monitoring activities was distributed to the Member States as a proposed outline of the descriptions to be prepared by each Member State. On June 22 a meeting was held by the EEA-TF in Brussels with representatives from 11 countries. The outline was discussed and it was decided that NERI should prepare a revised outline and send it to the national focal points and that each country should prepare a description of national monitoring activities and forward the descriptions to NERI by August 15. During the autumn of 1994 NERI received descriptions of monitoring activities from several countries. NERI analyzed the description and prepared in November 1994 a draft report. The draft report has in January 1995 been distributed to the Member States and ETC/IW partners for their comments and for updating with additional monitoring activities. Comments, information about additional monitoring programmes and suggestions for improvements were received from the Member States and ETC/IW partners during the early spring 1995. NERI has incorporated the comments and updated the report with the new monitoring programmes.

Many persons in many countries have made a great effort to prepare descriptions of the national surface monitoring activities, and they are gratefully acknowledged. Table 1.1 lists the organizations and persons who have contributed. Sixteen countries were kind enough to prepare national descriptions of their monitoring activities including specific descriptions of more than 100 monitoring programmes. However, the information supplied differed greatly: some countries provided only little information (a few written pages or report references), while others supplied very extensive descriptions with detailed information on the organizations in charge of monitoring activities and several detailed descriptions of monitoring programmes (more than 100 pages). No information has been provided from Italy.

Table 1.1: Persons and organizations responsible for preparing the descriptions of monitoring activities

Country Name Organization
Austria W. Vogel Umweltbundesamt
Spittelauer Lände 5
A-1090 Wien
+43 1 31304-0

[+43 1 31304-400]

Belgium J. Vanden Bossche VMM
Vlaamse Milieumaatschappij
A. van de Maelestraat 96
B-9320 Erembodegem

Division de la Police de l'Environnement
Avenue Prince de Liège 15
B-5100 Namur

+32 053 726211

[+32 053 777168]

+32 081 321211

[+32 081 325983]

Denmark J. Bøgestrand
K. Brodersen
P. Kristensen
Ministry of Environment and Energy
National Environmental Research Institute
P.O. Box 358
Dk-4000 Roskilde
+45 46 30 12 00

[+45 46 30 12 14]

Finland P. Heinonen
S. Antikeinen
A. Mäkelä
H. Vuoristo
National Board of Waters and the Environment
Research Institute
P.O. Box 250
FIN-00101 Helsinki
+358 0 40 281

[+358 0 40 28 338]

France P. Crouzet IFEN
Institut Francais de l'Environnement
17, rue des Huguenots
F-45058 Orléans Cedex 1
+33 38 79 78 78

[+33 38 79 78 70]

Germany U. Irmer Umweltbundesamt
P.O. Box 33 00 22
14191 Berlin
+49 030 89 03-0

[+49 030 8903-2285]

Greece O. Kaloudis Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works
General Directorate for the Environment
Environmental Planning Division
Water Section
147 Patission Str.
112 51 Athens
+30 86 50 053

[+30 86 47 420]

Iceland G. S. Jónsson Hollustuvernd ríkisins
Armúla 1A
P.O.Box 8080
128 Reykjavik
+354 5 688848

[+354 5 681896]

Ireland L. Stapleton Environmental Protection Agency
+353 53 47120

[+353 53 47119]

Luxembourg M. Molitor

M. Back-Reichard

Direction des Eaux et Forets
P.O. Box 411
L-2014 Luxembourg

Administration de l'Environnement
1a, rue Auguste Lumière
L-1950 Luxembourg

+352 40 22 01

[+352 48 59 85]

+352 40 56 56-422

[+352 49 18 84]

The Netherlands P.J.M. Latour
W.H. Mulder
Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management
Directorate-General For Public Works
Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment, RIZA 17
8200 AA Lelystad
+31 32 00 70 411

[+31 32 00 49 218]

Norway A. Solås
B. Kväven
G. Kielland

B. Faafeng

Norwegian Pollution Control Authority
P.O. Box 8100 Dep
N-0032 Oslo

Norwegian Institute for Water Research
P.O.Box 173, Kjelsås
N-0411 Oslo

+47 22 57 34 00

[+47 22 67 67 06]

+47 22 18 51 00

[+47 22 18 52 00]

Portugal M.A. Lacerda Ministério do Ambiente e Recursos Naturais
Instituto da Água
Direccao de Servicos de Recursos Hidricos
Avenida Almirante Gago Coutinho, Lisboa
+351 1 847 0610

[+351 1 80 92 18]

Spain A.H. Pereda Ministerio de Obras Públicas, Transportes y Medio Ambiente
Secretaria de estado de Medio Ambiente y Vivienda
Dirección General de Politica Ambiental
+341 597 8091

[+341 597 8511]

Sweden M. Notter Swedish Environmental Protection Agency,
Environmental Monitoring and Supervision Department, Monitoring Section,
Smidesvägen 5,
S-171 85 Solna
+46 8 799 10 00

[+46 8 29 23 82]

United Kingdom C. D. Martin Department of Environment
Environmental Protection Statistics Division
Room A104
Romney House
43 Marsham Street
London SW1P 3PY
+44 071 276 8947

[+44 071 276 8626]

* No information from Italy

In total, information on 61 river or inland water monitoring programmes, 19 lake monitoring programmes and 41 marine monitoring programmes has been collected. Most of the monitoring programmes aim at measuring the quality and pollution in the water column, and the majority of the monitoring programmes focus on chemical and physical assessment of water quality. A number of monitoring programmes use sampling of biological organisms, especially macroinvertebrates in rivers and plankton in lakes and marine areas, respectively. Programmes focusing on harmful substances often includes analyses of pollutants in sediment and biota, the most commonly employed organisms being fish and shellfish.

The report does not describe all surface water monitoring activities performed by the EEA Member States, since many other organizations (especially at the regional and local level) undertake monitoring as well. Nevertheless, it aims at providing an overview of the major national monitoring activities.

1.2 Presentation of results

Many of the descriptions of monitoring activities prepared by the countries were very extensive documents including much detailed information, and when put together as summaries in this report some information had to be omitted. In chapter 3 NERI has tried to prepare comparable summary descriptions of the monitoring activities in each country based on the national descriptions supplied (frequently as direct copies of parts of the supplied information). In some cases the summary descriptions may be faulty due to insufficient information.

In the text and tables presented there may be some uncertainty as to factual information, and incorrect figures and values may appear. The errors are mainly due to mistakes made by NERI or lack of information. Furthermore, it has been necessary to simplify and condense information and consequently omit details to enhance comparability. For example, it may be stated that a monitoring programme includes 200 sampling sites at which monthly measurements of heavy metals are made, but heavy metals may, in fact, be measured at 25 per cent of the sampling sites only. Please take note of this and use the information presented in the report as a general overview rather than as exact information on specific monitoring programmes.

In some cases the countries have not supplied sufficient information on their national monitoring activities. Some countries with a long coastline have, for instance, not supplied information on marine monitoring programmes. Therefore, the report does not give a complete overview of the monitoring activities in the EEA Member States.

A code has been used when referring to specific monitoring programmes, ie. "CC-Xn", CC referring to the country (see Table 1.2), X being either R=river, L=lake, or M=marine, and n is a numerical value. For example, DK-R1 refers to Denmark and to river monitoring programme number one.

Table 1.2: Countries and country codes in the European Environment Agency area.

Country Country code
Austria AU
Belgium BE
Denmark DK
Finland FI
France FR
Germany DE
Greece GR
Iceland IS
Ireland IE
Luxembourg LU
The Netherlands NL
Norway NO
Portugal PT
Spain ES
Sweden SE
United Kingdom UK

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