Integrating science into European water policy

This item first appeared in 2007

Event review: Water status monitoring of aquatic ecosystems, Lille, France

The three day ‘International conference on water status monitoring of aquatic ecosystems in the context of the water framework directive (WFD)’ was held in Lille, France, from 12 - 14 March 2007. The conference, sponsored by SCI, was attended by experts from all over Europe and beyond at a time when EU member states are expected to finalise the design of their monitoring programmes under the WFD. The conference was used as a platform to discuss different approaches to the implementation of monitoring programmes in EU member states. The meeting was attended by 283 delegates from 30 countries.

One of the main objectives of the conference organisers was to foster the integration of science into European water policy, as this is a pre-condition for the effective use of research results. It is also of special importance for an efficient funding strategy within the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, a point which was highlighted by Andrea Tilche, head of unit at the Directorate General for Research.

The representation of policy and research was very well balanced, with seven of the delegates from the Commission and related organisations and around 50 of the delegates from national ministries of environment or other national or trans-national organisations. These delegates were involved in some ‘very lively’ discussions with representatives of a number of research institutes and universities.

The conference programme consisted of 27 presentations, given on all relevant areas and aspects of monitoring. Additional information on activities such as pilot projects in specific river basins and relevant projects including NORMAN, EAQC-WISE and SWIFT-WFD was given in 88 poster presentations.

A prize for the best poster in each of the two categories ‘science’ and ‘policy’ was awarded in the final session. The prize in the ‘science’ category was awarded to Francesca Pellizzato, Marina Ricci and Andrea Held of the Joint Centre in Geel, Belgium, for their innovative contribution to the difficult issue of the analysis of short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs).

Further awards were given to a group of authors from the SWIFT consortium for their contribution ‘Evaluation of passive sampling devices for monitoring non-polar organic pollutants in surface waters’, and to Manfred Rottele, Julie Maillet-Mezeray and Peter Jaeken of the European Crop Protection Association for their poster ‘TOPPS – a training programme for operators to prevent pollution from point sources’. This project was aimed at reducing the loss of herbicides and pesticides to surface and groundwaters, which may be responsible for up to 70% of all water contamination by these products. The project is aimed at operators as well as supervisory staff.

The conference programme closely supported technical requirements of the WFD ecological and chemical status monitoring programme by providing interesting case studies on river, lake, marine and groundwater monitoring, as well as discussions about hydrogeological settings and mapping, modelling and its links to decision-making. Contributions from scientific projects focused on studies of soil-water-sediment interactions, groundwater environmental objectives, emerging methods for water monitoring, links between ecological and chemical status, analytical quality control, and development of a network of reference laboratories for monitoring of emerging organic substances often down to the ng/litre (ppt) level. The wide range of poster topics provided examples of policy issues, applications of monitoring techniques and a number of innovative analytical techniques.

The presentations are to be published as a Wiley book and the majority of the posters will be presented as full papers and submitted to the Journal of Environmental Management (JEM) for publication as peer reviewed papers in a special issue.

Philippe Quevauviller (EC directorate general for environment) and Tristan Simonart (Institute Pasteur, Lille) chaired the scientific committee. The conference organising committee was chaired by Ulrich Borchers (IWW Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Institut fuer Wasser) and the secretary of the organising committee was Clive Thompson.

Clive Thompson,
ALcontrol Laboratories

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