, Volume 100, Issue 1, pp 153-168

Method for biological quality assessment of watercourses in Belgium

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A description is given of the method generally used in Belgium to assess the quality of running water. It involves the determination of a biotic index with scores between 0 and 10, based on samples of the aquatic macro-invertebrate community collected in situ, using a handnet.

The Belgium method combines the advantages of two existing biological assessment methods worked out by Woodiwiss (1964) for the Trent River Board in the U.K., and by Tuffery & Verneaux (1968) for the Department of Fisheries and Pisciculture in France.

Its major advantages are its simplicity, speed, reliability, low cost, and practical utility. Its limitations and difficulaties as well as the needs for further research are briefly discussed.

The method, called the Belgian Biotic Index Method, is applicable to various types of watercourses and has recently been proposed to the Belgian Institute for Normalisation for approval as a standard method.

For several years, the Belgian government has based its strategy towards surface water sanitation on water quality maps, visualizing the biotic indices obtained by the biological assessment method. As such, Belgium is advancing the recommendations for biological water quality monitoring being worked out by the Environmental and Consumer Protection Service of the Commission of the European Communities.