Progress has been achieved, but big challenges remain for the health of European water, the European Environment Agency (EEA) reports its 2018 European Waters Assessment.
The EEA report gives an updated health check on over 130,000 surface and groundwater bodies monitored by EU Member States, based on the data collected and reported from more than 160 River Basin Management Plans covering the period 2010 to 2015.
While Europe’s ground water bodies, like aquifers, are in good health in most cases, only 40% of monitored lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters achieved the the EU Water Framework Directive’s minimum ‘good’ or ‘high’ ecological status during the 2010-2015 monitoring period, according to the report. The last EEA assessment in 2012 found a similar level of water bodies meeting ‘good’ or ‘high’ ecological status. The EEA assessment also looked at the quantitative state and over-abstraction of Europe’s groundwater and the overall chemical status of water bodies.
Achieving good status involves meeting certain standards for the ecology, chemistry and quantity of waters. Ecological status is the best overall indicator of how healthy a body of water is. It takes into account how pollution, habitat degradation, climate change, and other pressures like the number of man-made dams impact the quality of the water.
Knowledge of Europe’s waters has grown significantly since the first report, providing a better understanding of the status, the problems that lead to failure in achieving ‘good status’ and the measures implemented to generate improvement, the EEA assessment says.