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In the past months a team of Umweltbundesamt GmbH experts has carried out an extensive on-site assessment of existing laboratory and monitoring system infrastructure and capacities in the EUWI+ partner countries in the framework of the EUWI+ project. This exercise was carried out in close cooperation with the countries’ administrations and experts from the concerned institutions. The assessment aimed at understanding the current state of the infrastructure the available technical capacity, as well as identifying gaps and needs with a view to establishing a system capable of carrying out the obligations under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).

This work has resulted in a series of assessment reports, which summarise the current state of knowledge on the existing water monitoring and quality management systems, as well as the needs for technical equipment of the laboratories and trainings for staff. These reports also link to the rehabilitation and/or procurement and installation of monitoring and laboratory equipment.

These reports serve as the basis for upgrading the monitoring and laboratory system and aligning it with WFD requirements. They inform the procurement of equipment, including hydrological and water quality monitoring stations, and the rehabilitation and upgrade of existing equipment and existing laboratories. They also provide a basis for trainings and further technical support for laboratory accreditation, which is planned in the framework of the project.

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The assessment reports of monitoring systems and laboratory capacities indicate the identified needs for capacity building along the steps of the cyclic ground- and surface water management approach of the WFD. The working steps range from (1) the characterisation and delineation of water bodies, taking into account the pressure-impact relation, (2) support of the development of ecological assessment systems and of a suitable and feasible monitoring network, (3) field sampling, (4) data analysis and management, (5) the definition of measures to ensure adequate protection of water resources and to meet the WFD’s environmental objectives, (6) as well as the required implementation of these steps.

One key challenge is to further strengthen water monitoring capacity of monitoring networks, within the laboratories’ infrastructure and with the methodological basis for sampling, (physico-) chemical analyses and ecological as well as hydromorphological status determination.

While good equipment is necessary, capacity building and increased regular national budgets for monitoring are often more urgently needed than sampling or laboratory equipment.

Monitoring and appropriate laboratory capacities play a key role in the implementation of the WFD. Quality assurance, comparability and reliability of analytical results are duly addressed by the WFD’s daughter directive on technical specifications for chemical analyses and monitoring of water status (Commission Directive 2009/90/EC[1] – QA/QC Directive). Accreditation provides government bodies and regulators with confidence in the technical competence and quality of the data generated by laboratories.

Therefore, a main objective of the EUWI+ project is to strengthen the monitoring infrastructure (monitoring network and laboratory infrastructure, sampling, measurement and laboratory equipment incl. maintenance thereof) which is closely related to and goes hand-in-hand with capacity building by training of staff (sampling, analytics, QA/QC, accreditation and ecological status or potential determination). This finally also contributes to the implementation of RBMPs.

[1] COMMISSION DIRECTIVE 2009/90/EC of 31 July 2009 laying down, pursuant to Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, technical specifications for chemical analysis and monitoring of water status