June 1, 2016 by Lidia Ceriani

From the 11th to the 12th of May, I attended the workshop on “Assessment of pressures on European water bodies” held at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra (Italy). My attendance was mainly for informative purposes, but I also presented the wca poster entitled “Practical application of bioavailability for assessing the potential risks of metals”.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) 60/2000/EC requires the EU Member States (MS) to ensure the non-deterioration in status of water bodies and ensure a good status by 2015. As part of this planning process as required by the Directive, MS must identify pressures, such as pollution or hydro-morphological alterations, which hamper the achievement of good status, and plan appropriate measures to address those pressures. The European Commission is currently assessing the 2nd cycle of river basin management plans (RBMPs), and in this context, the JRC has been involved in developing and maintaining a set of models and indicators that represent pressures on water bodies ranging from nutrient pollution, to hydrological regime, to chemicals and morphological alterations (the “JRC pressure indicators”).

The objective of this workshop was to discuss the methodologies and preliminary results of the JRC pressure indicators, and collate feedbacks from experts of the MS which are involved in the assessment of these pressures in river basin districts. The aim is to achieve an overall picture of the pressures on EU water bodies, also ensuring homogeneity and consistency at the European scale. Up to now, different tools, pressures and expert judgement criteria were used by MS and river basin authorities, and therefore several discrepancies in the identified pressures were recognised.

The workshop comprised of presentations given by the JRC experts about modelling tools (e.g. LISFLOOD, EPIC, GREEN models) and the methodology developed for assessing hydro-morphological regime, nutrient pollution, morphological alteration, and chemicals’ pressures (e.g. input modelling parameters, time scale, catchment scale).

A positive discussion about the JRC indicators took place. The overall opinion was that the whole decision-making and shared process will help to prioritise funds, give a picture at EU scale, enhance transparency, support MS with poor resources, and ensure coherence among MS. However, potential risks were also acknowledged, like an overload of administrative work for MS, to overlook at some local issues, and possible miscommunication issues (and so, consistency should be ensured).

The outcomes of this workshop will be taken into account into the next JRC pressure indicators report.

The poster I presented about the use of BLMs and user-friendly tools for assessing the bioavailability of metals is available for download here.