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Screening method for Water data Information in support of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive

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Better monitoring methods for better water quality

The good intentions of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) can only be realised with the support of reliable tools. Screening, monitoring and the production of data fall into this category and formed the focus of an initiative to facilitate implementation of the directive for enhanced water quality in Europe.

Climate Change and Environment

Decisions made on the basis of incorrect information or data can have far-reaching implications. This applies to a wide range of situations and fields of study; it is just as important in implementation of the European Commission's Water Framework Directive (WFD). 'Classical' laboratory analyses together with screening methodologies are central to WFD implementation, for example in detecting accidental pollution. As such, successful monitoring of the WFD necessitates reliance on established quality measurement techniques that produce reliable and affordable data. The EU-funded project 'Screening method for water data information in support of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive' (SWIFT-WFD) was designed to address this aspect of the directive's implementation in direct relation to water quality. Using pilot case studies of river basin management, researchers investigated the potential impact of new devices on decision-making processes and the monitoring of costs. They then prepared a best practice document for stakeholders, to assist them in deciding on the best option. Existing and emerging screening methods were inventoried to provide access to consistent and reliable data, allowing for international comparisons. SWIFT-WFD members conducted a review of relevant laboratories and existing quality control (QC) tools for comparison to the state of the art, and carried out field trials to evaluate in situ operating methods. The results of tank tests were used for developing novel protocols and procedures regarding the control of screening tools and quality assurance. They developed and evaluated sensitive and specialised biosensors, which were then optimised in laboratory conditions, and designed new screening tools for targeted pollutants. The new screening methods and emerging tools (SMETs) met the project's goals of being able to assist with successful selection of measures responding to specific needs. This also met criteria for reducing operational and environmental costs. To promote the applicability of the study results for policymaking, project partners organised various activities including demonstration days, workshops and stakeholder interviews. Although SWIFT-WFD proposals will likely be used to varying degrees of exploitation among countries, the initiative succeeded in disseminating important information that supports monitoring activities necessary for achieving WFD aims as well as radically increasing public awareness of SMETs.

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