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Suitability of Water Quality Indices for Application in Lakes in the Mediterranean


Water quality indices (WQIs) are efficient and powerful tools for evaluating, organising and communicating information on the overall quality of surface water bodies. The use of these indices may be very helpful in evaluating the water quality of aquatic systems in relation to the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). In this study, two well-known water quality indices have been selected for evaluation: the CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment) and NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). These WQIs were applied in the Polyphytos reservoir-Aliakmon river in Greece where monthly water quality data were available for the period June 2004 to May 2005. The available dataset included values of the following parameters: water depth, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, pH, transparency (Secchi disk depth), BOD5, COD, total phosphorus (TP), chlorophyll-a (Chl-a), ammonium (NH4 +), nitrite (NO2 ) and nitrate (NO3 ), and total Κjeldahl nitrogen (TKN). The application of the two WQIs was made using specialised, freely available software-tools. A comparison of their performance and a qualitative judgement on their suitability on expressing the quality of a surface water body is presented. The classification results were compared with those obtained by the WFD-ECOFRAME approach of the EU. Based on the applicability and drawbacks of the examined indices, useful conclusions were derived and discussed. Among others, it is concluded that the NSF-WQI is a more robust index and produces a classification nearer that of the WFD-ECOFRAME approach when compared to the CCME-WQI.

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An initial version of this paper was presented at the 9th World Congress of EWRA “Water Resources Management in a Changing World: Challenges and Opportunities” in Istanbul, 10–13 June 2015.

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Correspondence to Dimitris Alexakis.

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Alexakis, D., Tsihrintzis, V.A., Tsakiris, G. et al. Suitability of Water Quality Indices for Application in Lakes in the Mediterranean. Water Resour Manage 30, 1621–1633 (2016).

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  • Surface water bodies
  • Water Quality Indices
  • WFD-ECOFRAME approach
  • Chemical status