3. Summary description of surface water monitoring activities in each country


The following chapter aims at giving an overview of monitoring activities in the 16 countries from the EEA-area having supplied information. The monitoring activities of each country are briefly summarized. First the main surface waters of each specific country are described. Secondly, an overview of the involved institutions and the organization of surface water monitoring activities is presented. Finally, the main monitoring activities in relation to rivers, lakes, coastal and marine waters are described including a table listing:

  • name of the monitoring activity,
  • involved institutions,
  • measured variables,
  • period of operation and sampling frequency,
  • geographical coverage
  • data storage and reporting.

A list of the involved institutions is given in appendix II.




These summary descriptions of the monitoring activities of each county are very compressed compilations of the more extensively descriptions (at present more than 1000 pages in total) prepared by each country. In appendix I more detailed tables of the monitoring activities are presented. In addition, the more detailed specific descriptions of each monitoring activity will be stored in the EEA Catalogue of Data Sources (EEA-CDS).


Austria has a land area of 83,856 km2 and a population of 7.8 million (1991). The Alps cover two thirds of the Austrian territory. 96 per cent of the land area is a part of the Danube catchment, 38 per cent of the catchment area is confluent with the Danube outside the Austrian territory (eg. the rivers Mur, Drau, Leitha, and Raab). The total river length is about 100,000 km and 30 rivers have a catchment area exceeding 1,000 km2. Austria has about 9,000 lakes and ponds (62 per cent natural and 38 per cent artificial), 26 of the lakes have a surface area larger than 1 km2. The two largest lakes, Lake Constance and Lake Neusiedler See have a surface area exceeding 300 km2 and are shared with Switzerland and Germany, and Hungary, respectively.

Involved institutions

In Austria - being a federal republic - the responsibilities are shared between federal authorities and the 9 provinces (Bundesländer). Responsibility in water affairs including water quality monitoring is concentrated within the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry/Division IV (Water management and hydraulic engineering) cooperating with its Federal Agency for Water Management and the Federal Environmental Agency.

The Federal authorities are responsible for legislation, coordination and standardization of national monitoring programme, the provincial authorities being responsible for the actual operation of the water monitoring programme. Table 3.1 lists the main Austrian surface water monitoring programmes.

River Monitoring

In Austria water quality monitoring has a long tradition. Maps concerning the river quality indicated as water quality class have been published by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry nearly every two years since 1962, but up to 1990 there has not been a definite, nation-wide programme for water quality monitoring of surface waters.

In 1990, in connection with the comprehensive amendment of the Federal Austrian Water Act, the Federal Act on Hydrography was extended to include the investigation of water quality. This act provides the legal and financial basis for the establishment of a nation-wide, systematic water quality monitoring system for ground water and running waters (R1).


Ordinance on Water Quality Monitoring (R1)

Details of the monitoring programme are laid down in an "Ordinance on Water Quality Monitoring". The main features of the monitoring system are to provide up-to-date and detailed information on ground water and river water quality to decision makers and the general public. Thus

  • changes in water quality are indicated very quickly,
  • the main areas of pollution can be detected and remedial measures carried out effectively,
  • the progress of remedial measures can be supervised by monitoring.

The provincial authorities are responsible for the operative execution of the water monitoring programme (eg. selection of sampling sites, sampling, analyzing, etc.). Sampling and analyzing are entirely undertaken by private subcontractors invited to tender by the provincial authorities. The contractors are kept under close surveillance (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry/Department of Water Management Register and the provincial authorities) to assure the quality of sampling and analyses.

Table 3.1: Austrian national surface water monitoring programmes.

No. Name Responsible institution Variables Period of operation & Sampling Frequency (GREENED) Geographical coverage Data &  reporting
Rivers and streams
R1 Ordinance on Water Quality Monitoring MAF physical, chemical, bacteriological & biological variables since 1991
SF: 6/yr
244 sampling sites at national rivers Database & reporting; MAF-WMR & FEA
R2-R8 Water quality monitoring of transboundary rivers
2. Bucharest Declaration
3. Regenburger Vertrag
4. AU-CZ Grenzgewässer- kommision (GK)
7. AU-SL GK river Mur
8. AU-SL GK river Drau
BfW & the commissions, respectively physical ,chemical & biological variables
2. since 1988
SF: monthly
3. AU-DE since 1991
SF: monthly
4. AU-CZ since 1968
SF: 1-4/yr
5. AU-SK since 1968
SF: every 2 months
6. AU-HU since 1972
SF: 2-12/yr
7. AU-SL since 1965
SF: 2/yr
8. AU-SL since 1955
SF: 1/yr
2. 2 sites at Danube
3. Rivers crossing
AU-DE border
4. Rivers crossing
AU-CZ border
5. Rivers crossing
AU-SK border
6. Rivers crossing
AU-HU border & Lake Neusiedler See
7. River Mur
8. River Drau
AU database; BfW Database & reporting by the commissions, respectively
Lakes and reservoirs
L1 Water quality monitoring according to the "transboundary commission" for Lake Constance IKGB physical, chemical & biological variables since ?
SF: differs according to the special monitoring programme
Lake Constance & tributaries Database & reporting; IKGB
L2 Gewässergüteuntersuchungen Zeller See BfW physical, chemical, bacteriological & biological variables since 1953
SF: 5/yr
Lake Zeller See Database & reporting; BfW

AU: Austria; SK: Slovak Republic; SL: Slovenia; DE: Germany; CZ: Czech Republic; HU: Hungary
MAF: Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; WMR: Water Management Register; FEA: Federal Environmental Agency;
BfW: Bundesanstalt für Wassergüte; IKGB: Internationalen Gewässerschutz-Kommission für den Bodensee

River water samples are collected six times a year (every two months), sediments as well as biological material are sampled once a year. At some sampling sites water samples are taken twelve times a year because of special bilateral agreements on transboundary water management issues.

The substances observed can be divided into three units: the first one covers all substances necessary for a general characterization of hydrochemical properties or general pollution situations (oxygen, nutrients, pH, etc.). The substances of the second group serve to provide an Austrian-wide survey (heavy metals, hydrocarbons, AOX). The third unit covers i.a. substances with high ecotoxicological relevance such as pesticides. The selection of substances is adapted to regional requirements and depends on the specific land use and of state of pollution.

Full compatibility of information is enforced with the help of technical guidelines and directives. All data are stored at the Federal Environmental Agency. Data are evaluated by both partners, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Federal Environmental Agency in close cooperation. Summarized results are published in annual reports by the Department for Federal Water Management Register.

Monitoring of transboundary rivers

Austria has signed agreements with neighbouring countries and international treaties concerning the protection and improvement of water quality and cooperation in water management in the border sections. A number of transboundary commissions were set up to put the agreements into practice. River water quality is investigated according to the monitoring programmes defined by the special transboundary commissions (R2-R8).

Monitoring of lakes

Up to now there is no standardized programme on water quality monitoring of Austrian lakes. The water quality of Austrian lakes is investigated within the scope of special monitoring programmes of provincional authorities and research programmes (Academy of Science, University institutes, Federal Institute for Water Quality). Some lakes have been continuously investigated since 1960, but the variables investigated and the sampling frequency vary a lot. In addition to the "Ordinance on water quality monitoring" for rivers and groundwater, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will also work out a special ordinance for monitoring water quality of the most important Austrian lakes.

Austria participates in the L1 monitoring programme for Lake Constance coordinated by the Internationalen Gewässerschutz-Kommission für den Bodensee (IGKB/ Lake Constance), and also Zeller See has been continuously monitored since 1953 (L2).

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