Under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) (Directive 2000/60/CE), member states are required to achieve Good Water Status for water (continental, estuarine, subterranean and coastal water bodies) in Europe by 2015. Surface water quality is assessed taking into account the ecological and chemical status.
The quality of aquatic systems is more accurately assessed using the status of both the water column and the underlying sediment. A recent study by researchers of AZTI-Tecnalia concluded that water bodies risk being misclassified if, on evaluating their chemical status, only the water column is considered and sediment assessment is not included. Hence, this can lead to unnecessary recovery costs in the zone under study and detracting from any ecological gain that might accrue. The study was published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.
The ecological status of a body of water involves the study of a number of indicators: biological (the composition and abundance of phytoplankton, macroalgae, angiosperms, macrobenthos and fish); hydromorphological (depth, tides, etc.); as well as the chemical and physical conditions that affect the water's biological quality (oxygenation, salinity, nutrients, priority substances, and so on). The chemical status is also determined according to environmental quality standards (EQS) of important pollutants, these including metals found in the water and organic compounds, as listed under the 2008/105/EC Directive on priority and dangerous substances.
Spillages and hydromorphological pressure
Researchers of the Marine Research Division of AZTI-Tecnalia investigated the quality of coastal and estuarine waters in the Basque Country, between 1995 and 2007. According to their report, the river catchments, estuaries and coastal waters of the area have been polluted by urban and industrial discharges. All this has resulted in an increase in organic material, oxygen consumption, metals
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