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New approach to reducing priority substances in water

Priority substances pose a considerable risk to the water environment. In the light of the Water Framework Directive, it is essential to reduce these substances. This makes new management strategies necessary. Within the European SOCOPSE project there has been thorough research into measures focusing on the reduction of priority substances as well as the development of a decision support method, soon available as a web-based version.

SOCOPSE stands for SOurce COntrol of Priority Substances in Europe. Within this Sixth Framework project TNO has been working together with ten other parties from nine member states on measures and the development of a decision support system (DSS) for the reduction of priority substances in river basins. The Water Framework Directive has to ensure that the quality of surface water and groundwater is both chemically and ecologically sound by 2015.

Water Framework Directive

The European Commission has drawn up a list of environmental quality standards for priority substances to ensure the right chemical status of surface water and groundwater. The water authorities of river basins have to develop river basin management plans to achieve the Water Framework Directive targets. In 2009 the first series of plans to implement the measures have to be ready. In 2015 a second round will follow whereby the plans can be amended, with help from the newly developed DSS.

DSS manual

The decision support system (DSS) helps the water authorities take stock of their problems and select possible measures for priority substances. The measures can be taken on the basis of effectiveness and weighing up the (social) costs and benefits. The DSS is not a computer model or software tool but a structured way of arriving at an approach to priority substances in six steps. The way the DSS works is fully described in a manual that contains plenty of background information on possible measures, substance flows, priority substance standards and the Water Framework Directive. The manual will soon be available as a web-based version.

Testing in practice

Local water authorities have been testing the DSS in practice in five cases: the Maas (Netherlands), the Vantaa (Finland), the Klodnica (Poland), the Ter/Llobregat (Spain) and the Danube. The results of the cases will help refine the DSS, which will then be ready to assist the water authorities in the run-up to the second round of planning (2015).

Want to know more about SOCOPSE?

Willy van Tongeren BSc


Willy van Tongeren BSc


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