, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 217-228
Date: 27 Apr 2010



The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires the achievement of good ecological and chemical status in European river basins. However, evidence is increasing that a majority of European water bodies will not achieve this goal. Nutrient emissions and related eutrophication together with hydromorphological alterations have been suggested as the major driving forces of this insufficient ecological status. MODELKEY (511237 GOCE, FP6) provides strong evidence that toxic chemicals also affect the ecological status of European rivers. This was demonstrated in the case study rivers Elbe, Scheldt and Llobregat on different scales.

This paper summarises key findings of MODELKEY including recommendations for WFD implementation. We

• provide evidence of toxic stress in aquatic ecosystems,

• provide evidence that impairment of ecological status results from impact of multiple stressors,

• suggest a tiered approach to assess impact of chemicals on ecological status,

• suggest a new approach for deriving candidate compounds for monitoring and prioritisation,

• call for consideration of bioavailability and bioaccumulation in chemical status assessments,

• suggest improvements for WFD water quality monitoring programmes,

• provide new integrated tools for basin-scale risk assessment and decision making,

• developed a Decision Support System to support river basin management.

These key results will be presented in a series of ten integrated sections; for the scientific details please refer to publications listed on the MODELKEY website (http://​www.​modelkey.​org/). This article also looks beyond MODELKEY and proposes a combination of MODELKEY diagnostic tools with recent ecological methods to further improve effectiveness of river basin management.