Ten years of the Water Framework Directive in Spain: An overview of the ecological and chemical status of surface water bodies
ABSTRACT: The Water Framework Directive (WFD) represents a significant departure from prior water management and planning practices in Spain. The traditional water policy, oriented towards supply augmentation to meet increasing water demands, is required to shift focus and prioritize the protection of the aquatic environment and ecological health. Despite the long hydrological planning history in Spain, little information was available on the ecological status of surface and ground waters prior to the implementation of the WFD. The requirements of the Directive have implied a significant effort for Spanish authorities to develop all biological, hydromorphological and chemical data required to determine the status of water bodies. This study provides a first national overview of the ecological, chemical and overall status of Spanish surface water bodies (rivers, lakes, transitional and coastal), identifies the most problematic areas and discusses the consistency and adequateness of the methods and indicators used across basins. To carry out the analysis, we use the status information contained in the draft or approved River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) available at this point. Our results show that almost 50% of all surface waters in Spain are in poor status, mainly due to their poor ecological status. 43% of surface water bodies have not yet been evaluated so the information presented in the study is necessarily partial and incomplete. Available data shows that rivers and transitional waters are the water bodies in poorest status. The Southern basins draining into the Atlantic Ocean show the worst rank, with over 53% of surface waters in poor status. The lack of reference conditions to measure some key indicators such as fish
fauna and most hydromorphological conditions, impedes making robust comparisons across basin districts at this point.