Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Total Environ. 2017 Jan 15;576:720-737. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.104. Epub 2016 Oct 28.

Towards the review of the European Union Water Framework Directive: Recommendations for more efficient assessment and management of chemical contamination in European surface water resources.

Author information

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Leipzig, Germany; RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany. Electronic address:
Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques INERIS, Verneuil-en-Halatte, France.
ACES - Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Oslo, Norway.
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Leipzig, Germany; RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.
RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.
Oeko-Institut e.V. - Institute for Applied Ecology, Freiburg, Germany.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ORD, NHEERL, Atlantic Ecology Division, Narrangansett, RI, USA.
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Leipzig, Germany; Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
Jaume I University, Castellón, Spain.
Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Division, Environment Canada, Burlington, Ontario, Canada.
Masaryk University, Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX), Brno, Czech Republic.
EAWAG, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland.
Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology, Eawag-EPFL, Dübendorf, Switzerland.
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.
IRSTEA - UR MALY, Villeurbanne Cedex, France.
IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Environmental Protection Agency, Dublin, Ireland.
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM, Bilthoven, The Netherlands; Department of Environmental Science, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Fraunhofer Inst Mol Biol & Appl Ecol IME, Aberg 1, D-57392 Schmallenberg, Germany.
University Koblenz-Landau, Landau, Germany.
Bavarian Environmental Agency, D-86179 Augsburg, Germany.
MERMAYDE, Groet, The Netherlands.
Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands; Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Deltares, Delft, The Netherlands.
KWR Watercycle Research Institute, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands; Copernicus Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Deltares, Delft, The Netherlands; VU University Amsterdam, Institute for Environmental Studies, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Amalex Environmental Solutions, Leipzig, Germany.


Water is a vital resource for natural ecosystems and human life, and assuring a high quality of water and protecting it from chemical contamination is a major societal goal in the European Union. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) and its daughter directives are the major body of legislation for the protection and sustainable use of European freshwater resources. The practical implementation of the WFD with regard to chemical pollution has faced some challenges. In support of the upcoming WFD review in 2019 the research project SOLUTIONS and the European monitoring network NORMAN has analyzed these challenges, evaluated the state-of-the-art of the science and suggested possible solutions. We give 10 recommendations to improve monitoring and to strengthen comprehensive prioritization, to foster consistent assessment and to support solution-oriented management of surface waters. The integration of effect-based tools, the application of passive sampling for bioaccumulative chemicals and an integrated strategy for prioritization of contaminants, accounting for knowledge gaps, are seen as important approaches to advance monitoring. Including all relevant chemical contaminants in more holistic "chemical status" assessment, using effect-based trigger values to address priority mixtures of chemicals, to better consider historical burdens accumulated in sediments and to use models to fill data gaps are recommended for a consistent assessment of contamination. Solution-oriented management should apply a tiered approach in investigative monitoring to identify toxicity drivers, strengthen consistent legislative frameworks and apply solutions-oriented approaches that explore risk reduction scenarios before and along with risk assessment.


Chemical legislation; Effect-based tools; Passive sampling; Prioritization of contaminants; Solution-oriented management; Water Framework Directive review

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center