Odense Pilot River Basin: Implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in a shallow eutrophic estuary (Odense Fjord, Denmark) and its upstream catchment

  • Petersen J
  • Rask N
  • Madsen H
 et al. 
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Implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) is a huge
environmental management challenge for Europe, demanding an integrated
sustainable approach to water management and a common objective of
obtaining `good status' for all water bodies before 2015. The main task
is the preparation of a river basin management plan for each of the 96
European river basin districts before the end of 2009. In Odense River
Basin (island of Fyn, Denmark), one of 14 appointed European Pilot River
Basins, the implementation of the WFD has been developed and tested in
practice. Reference conditions and ecological status classification for
Odense Fjord, based on eelgrass (Zostera marina) depth limit and
nutrient concentrations, have been drawn up through a combination of
historical data and modelling tools. A subsequent quantitative linking
of pressures and impact, in casu between land-based nitrogen (N) loading
of the fjord and resulting nutrient concentrations and eelgrass
appearance, provided an estimate of the needed nitrogen load reduction
of the fjord. This amounted to approx. 1,200 tonnes N per year (an
annual load reduction of ca. 11 kg N ha(-1) of catchment area or ca.
19.5 g N m(-2) of fjord surface)-a load reduction of ca. 60% from the
present level-to obtain at least `good' ecological status sensu WFD. It
is presently not possible to quantify a target load for phosphorus (P)
in relation to marine environmental objectives. An economically feasible
programme of measures to obtain `good' status in all surface water and
ground-water bodies in Odense River Basin, using an integrated
cost-effectiveness analysis, showed that re-establishment of wetlands,
catchcrops, and reduced fertilisation norms are the most effective
measures if large reductions in N loads to the aquatic environment are
to be achieved. The total socioeconomic cost of implementing the WFD in
the river basin amounts to about 13 million (sic)/year, which will
increase the expense for water services by only 0.5-0.6% of the total
income and production value in the basin (15,650 million (sic)/year).
Investments to obtain the needed nitrogen load reductions from
agriculture are thus economically feasible. Further, it is not an
impossible task, either economically or technically, to reach the
objectives of the WFD while still retaining the possibility of keeping a
high agricultural production in the catchment (maintaining livestock
production but decreasing crop production in the case of Odense River
Basin). The future conditions in Odense Fjord will not only depend on
the success in reducing the load from the river basin area, but will
also be affected by the trend in the nutrient loss from the whole Baltic
catchment area. The high growth rates in the new EU Member States thus
pose an important challenge to water managers, and decoupling of
economic growth from pressure on water bodies will be necessary.
Finally, a number of challenges facing water managers around the Baltic
and within the EU, namely preconditions required to successfully
implement the WFD, are presented.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Coastal eutrophication
  • Ecological classification
  • Environmental economics
  • Programme of measures
  • River basin district

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  • Jørgen Dan Petersen

  • Nanna Rask

  • Harley Bundgaard Madsen

  • Ole Tyrsted Jørgensen

  • Stig Eggert Petersen

  • Susanne V. Koch Nielsen

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