Leipzig. Experts from 20 countries have called for the guidance documents for the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) to be updated. The consensus among the scientists and stakeholders who discussed risks for European rivers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in November was that the Directive is a good start, but it needs to be taken further. The experts can already see that the target of reaching good ecological status for all natural waters by the year 2015 cannot be achieved. In their view, however, the answer is not to reduce the quality standards, but to reappraise the instruments for implementing the Water Framework Directive.
The researchers are expecting the rise in biomass production to lead to an increase in the use of crop protectants, which will cause pesticide levels to go up again as well. "Increased cultivation of energy crops will have a negative impact on rivers," fears Dr Peter von der Ohe of the UFZ. So despite all the progress of recent years, the Water Framework Directive will still be needed in future and must respond to current developments.
In the scientists view, the choice of harmful substances to be monitored in rivers throughout Europe is a weak point of the existing Directive. "This priority list, which currently contains 41 substances, is not adequate for explaining the impacts of chemicals in rivers," says Dr Werner Brack, who is in charge of the MODELKEY EU research project, which is investigating key chemicals in three model European rivers. He feels that these 41 chemicals represent a tiny proportion of chemical pollution and are often substances that have been measured for a long time, but which, in some cases, are playing an increasingly limited role. "For instance, the insecticide DDT is on the list even though it was banned in most Western industrialised nations as far back as the 1970s and is therefore no longer used. From our point of view, it would be
|Contact: Dr. Werner Brack|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres