Environmental Sciences Europe

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 217–228


Key findings and recommendations for reaching the EU Water Framework Directive’s quality objectives


  • M. Hein
    • Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH – UFZ
  • S. Rotter
    • Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH – UFZ
  • M. Schmitt-Jansen
    • Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH – UFZ
  • P. C. von der Ohe
    • Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH – UFZ
  • W. Brack
    • Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH – UFZ
  • E. de Deckere
    • Department of BiologyUniversity of Antwerp
  • C. Schmitt
    • Department of BiologyUniversity of Antwerp
  • D. de Zwart
    • Laboratory for Ecological Risk AssessmentNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment
  • L. Posthuma
    • Laboratory for Ecological Risk AssessmentNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment
  • E. M. Foekema
    • Environment DepartmentWageningen IMARES
  • I. Muñoz
    • Department of EcologyUniversity of Barcelona
  • S. Sabater
    • Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Girona
  • H. Segner
    • Centre for Fish and Wildlife HealthUniversity of Berne
  • E. Semenzin
    • Consorzio Venezia Ricerche
  • A. Marcomini
    • Consorzio Venezia Ricerche
  • J. van Gils
    • Deltares
  • B. van Hattum
    • Institute for Environmental StudiesVrije Universiteit
  • L. A. van Vliet
    • RWS Centre for Water management

DOI: 10.1007/s12302-010-0137-2

Cite this article as:
Hein, M., Rotter, S., Schmitt-Jansen, M. et al. Environ Sci Eur (2010) 22: 217. doi:10.1007/s12302-010-0137-2


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.


Aquatic ecosystemsBasin managementBasin-scale risk assessmentChemical status assessmentsDecision-makingDecision Support SystemEcological statusEuropean river basinsMultiple stressorsToxic stressWater quality monitoring programmes

Supplementary material

12302_2010_137_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (99 kb)
MODELKEY – Models for assessing and forecasting the impact of environmental key pollutants on freshwater and marine ecosystems and biodiversity

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010