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Environ Manage. 2010 Apr;45(4):856-67. doi: 10.1007/s00267-010-9450-1. Epub 2010 Mar 4.

Application of two quality indices as monitoring and management tools of rivers. Case study: the Imera Meridionale River, Italy.

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1
Department DACPA, Division of Plant Biology and Ecology, University of Catania, Via Valdisavoia 5, 95123, Catania, Italy.

Abstract

On the basis of the European Water Framework Directive (2000/60), the water resources of the member states of the European Community should reach good quality standards by 2015. Although such regulations illustrate the basic points for a comprehensive and effective policy of water monitoring and management, no practical tools are provided to face and solve the issues concerning freshwater ecosystems such as rivers. The Italian government has developed a set of regulations as adoption of the European Directive but failed to indicate feasible procedures for river monitoring and management. On a local scale, Sicilian authorities have implemented monitoring networks of watersheds, aiming at describing the general conditions of rivers. However, such monitoring programs have provided a relatively fragmentary picture of the ecological conditions of the rivers. In this study, the integrated use of environmental quality indices is proposed as a methodology able to provide a practical approach to river monitoring and management. As a case study, the Imera Meridionale River, Sicily's largest river, was chosen. The water quality index developed by the U.S. National Sanitation Foundation and the floristic quality index based on the Wilhelm method were applied. The former enabled us to describe the water quality according to a spatial-temporal gradient, whereas the latter focused on the ecological quality of riparian vegetation. This study proposes a holistic view of river ecosystems by considering biotic and abiotic factors in agreement with the current European regulations. How the combined use of such indices can guide sustainable management efforts is also discussed.

PMID:
20204635
DOI:
10.1007/s00267-010-9450-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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