Programme of measures

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Work Package 3: Programme of measures

Task 3.1: Review of existing rehabilitation measures

There is a very wide range of measures that could be taken to help achieve WFD objectives, but, as yet, there is no robust assessment of the most appropriate under differing conditions. By the end of 2008 member states will have the draft RBMP including the programme of measures ready for public consultation. The main aim of this work package is to review the measures that have been employed or identified in the programme of measures for the 1st RBMP (2009) in different parts of Europe (and elsewhere) for different problems, be they morphological or hydrological, and examine their efficacy and transferability to other scenarios and situations the European context.

Task 3.2: Establishing environmental flows

As already indicated, alteration of the hydrological regime has profound impacts river ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Consequently there is a need to establish the hydrological regimes or environmental flows that will support the recovery of rivers. The emerging principles for setting environmental flows will be examined and tested to establish a framework for linking flows to river form and functioning to optimise the benefits accruing from physical habitat improvements in rivers. This will be imperative if the benefits from physical improvement works are to be realised.

Task 3.3: Responses of biota to rehabilitation measures

As recognised when formulating Task 3.1, there is a plethora of measures available for rehabilitation, rarely has the outcomes of the various measures been measured in terms of meeting the objectives. There is thus a need to define a programme of measures to illustrate which are to be most likely to be appropriate in the coming years. They will be categorised according to their scale, cost, social implications and benefits, and ease of transfer of measures to similar scenarios. This will be linked to assessment of the efficacy of various measures to mitigate the ecological impacts of various pressures are mitigated and identify those measures where the response is marginal or even adverse. It should be noted there might be pressures for which no measure can be deployed in practice, and thus where argumentation mechanisms may have to be adopted. Stakeholders will be consulted on this component during the first workshop.

Task 3.4: Case studies

For these measures, the scientific basis for the predicted ecological effects will be assessed through a series of case studies from water bodies in each partner country. Case studies from a range of conditions will be used to exemplify the measures taken and their practicability and success. Case studies originate from all countries taking part in this proposal. Measures widely employed with uncertain ecological response will receive special attention. The best case studies will be promoted to demonstrate how hydro-morphological pressures and their mitigation result in improved ecological status. Here best implies both high quality research and transferability to systems and conditions. The assessment of measures will be put into a framework of pressures and typologies of water bodies to enable easy transfer of methodologies. Simultaneously a review of gaps in knowledge and expertise will be undertaken to highlight where research and capacity building are required. The case studies will, where possible, make use of, GIS technologies, such as LIDAR, together with LIDAR and aerial images are able to define a precise platform for assessment of the impacts of hydro-morphological pressures both on instream and riparian zone habitats to design the programme of measures for habitat improvement under various scenarios. Again particular attention will focus on heavily modified and artificial water bodies, where the mechanisms for achieving good ecological potential may be realised mostly through management of the riparian zone.

Studies will be carried out on a number of water bodies to support understanding of impact of hydro-morphological pressures as a well measuring the benefits of rehabilitation strategies. Examples of the many case studies available to te project partners include the following.

UHULL will draw on considerable involvement with the Environment Agency with regards to small and large scale rehabilitation programmes. In particular they will provide quantitative information and case studies based on catchment scale projects in the Great Ouse, River Hull and River Mersey, and local scale measures on the Yorkshire Ouse, River Trent and Northumbria rivers (the latter in relation to trout fisheries). The partner also has made an extensive contribution to the catchment management plans for the Guadiana River in Portugal that has direct relevance to this project.

In recent years Deltares have invested much effort on to relate hydromorphology in lowland rivers and shallow lakes to biological quality elements (fish, aquatic vegetation). This information can be assessed, translated and compared to knowledge in other countries. For the WFD Art. 5 report (2004) the level of hydromorphological modifications has been assessed for all water bodies in the Netherlands (up to 25 indicators). This information has insufficiently been linked to ecological status. All data are available in national databases and can thus be exploited. They have developed the RHASIM: Habitat simulation for rheophilic fish in the River Meuse in relation to minimal flow requirements and been key players in the rehabilitation of side channels, riparians zones and floodplains along the Rivers Rhine and Meuse with detailed hydromorphological and biological assessment. They will also be able to make the following work available to the project

  1. DELFT 3D. This is a flexible framework which simulates two (either in the horizontal or a vertical plane) and three-dimensional flow, waves, water quality, ecology, sediment transport and bottom morphology and is capable of handling the interactions between those processes. Available is amongst others a detailed schematisation of the River Rhine, which output will assessed for its application for the WFD.
  2. WFD explorer: a modular tool to support water managers for selecting measures to improve the ecological states of water bodies. It is forms a common knowledge and information basis and was inspired by the experiences with the modular tool for the project ‘Room for the River’.

The German partners will concentrate on two systems:

  1. The Elbe River system which representative for rivers throughout Europe and will allow derivation of type specific restoration / mitigation for small / large, fast / low flowing an upland / lowland rivers in various combinations.
  2. The urban parts of the rivers Spree and Havel in Berlin face a multitude of human impacts and uses, like regulation, cross section enlargement, embankment, impermeable land cover, storm water outlets, inland navigation, water abstraction, thermal pollution, etc. Rehabilitation and maintenance of instream habitat structures for riverine biota, e.g. flow related coarse substrata and flow velocity patterns, becomes increasingly challenging not only because of their potential impacts on existing uses, but especially in the light of water scarcity, decreasing discharges and flow as predicted by various global change scenarios for large parts of Europe. Existing and planned rehabilitation sites will be evaluated and incorporated respectively to gain a basic functional understanding of bottlenecks for ecological improvements and their mitigation by efficient, permanent, self-sustaining facilities.

The French partners are able to offer information from a 10-year long scientific survey of the Rhône river restoration programme. This programme involves establishing minimum flow requirements below 8 dams and restoration of dozens of secondary channels ( Physical (sediment, hydraulics …) and biological patterns (fish, invertebrates, plants …) have been surveyed and some results have already been published. They will also provide information on monitoring of sediment reintroduction in incised river channels (Ain, Drôme rivers), rehabilitation of backwaters on the Saône river. Cemagref have also tested the generality of biological responses to other aspects of the flow regime such as flow patterns at different seasons or severe droughts. in dozens of French sites and contributed to tests of the predictability of trout population responses to minimum flow increases (Sabaton et al. 2004)

UPM has been actively involved with numerous projects of direct relevance to this project and will buld on these projects to provide case study material. The projects include:

  • Determinación del estado ecológico de los ríos de Aragón, indicadores hidromorfológicos (EIN-Aragón, Gobierno de Aragón, 2002-04),
  • Plan medioambiental de Ebro y tramo bajo del Cinca (Gobierno de Aragón, 04-05),
  • Tramificación de la red fluvial de la cuenca del Ebro (United Research Services, Confederación Hidrográfica del Ebro, 2004-05),
  • Estudio hidrológico, geomorfológico, hidráulico y ecológico del bajo Gállego en el término municipal de Zaragoza para su gestión como espacio fluvial (A. de Zaragoza, 03-05),
  • Caracterización y valoración hidromorfológica y ecológica de los ríos y riberas de las cuencas altas del Aragón y el Gállego, para el diseño de un plan ambiental (Fundación Nueva Cultura del Agua, 2005-06),
  • Efectos de las minicentrales hidroeléctricas en los sistemas fluviales de Navarra: diagnóstico, tendencias y propuestas de gestión (Ibarra, Jaso y Asociados, Gestión Ambiental Viveros y Repoblaciones de Navarra, 2007-08),
  • Evaluación de procesos de dinámica fluvial para la restauración del río Aragón en Caparroso (Gestión Ambiental Viveros y Repoblaciones de Navarra, 2008).

The DDNRI have been the lead institution dealing with the restoration of Danube Delta in Romania (total area 580,000 ha). This system suffered from damming of 100,000 ha and excavation new canals before 1990 for economic purposes A restoration programme started in 1994 re-connected 15,000 ha to the river system and returned the area to wetlands. The responses of biotic components to damming and later to restoration measures are relevant for the project objectives and will be reviewed as part of this programme.