6. The Way Forward

The proposed network design has been piloted in four volunteer Member States during the early part of 1996. The four States were Austria (groundwater quality network), Denmark (lakes and rivers network), Spain (rivers water quantity network) and UK (rivers network in England and Wales). The results from these initial studies were presented at the Madrid workshop and reported separately. At the workshop most Member States (Germany expressed reservations) endorsed the implementation of the proposed monitoring network across the EEA area in a step-by-step process.

The plan for the next phase of the ETC/IW workprogramme under the 1996 subvention period is to further develop and test the next in the first four States and to start the implementation process in other volunteer States. The latter States are Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. During these initial phases of the implementation the basic design of the network will be tested using real national monitoring data, and if required, the network design will be modified. During the first phase emphasis will be placed on establishing a uniform approach to site selection using the proposed stratification design. This will serve to highlight additional differences and gaps in exiting national and international monitoring programmes. At a later date issues such as determinand comparability and sampling methodology will have to be addressed so that comparable information can be obtained. For many States there will be a need to consider developing new monitoring programmes where major gaps exist (e.g. absence of a lake or groundwater monitoring network) and/or modifying current analytical procedures so that comparable data can be obtained. The results of these studies will reported to Member States periodically - the next progress report is due in February 1997.

Ultimately the aim is to have the network in place so that it can quickly provide up-to-date and comparable information on the state of water resources in the EEA area to be used in future updated reports on the State of Europe’s Environment or in key issue monographs such as those to be produced by the ETC/IW on Groundwater Quality and Quantity, and on Eutrophication during 1997.

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