Characterisation of reference conditions for rare or unusual river typologies

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Resource or Project Abstract

The Water Framework Directive is the key EU legislation requiring Member States to improve and sustainably manage and protect water quality in all surface water bodies. Under the WFD, all EU Member States are obliged to develop a river typology upon which type-specific reference conditions can be defined to enable accurate evaluation of ecological status. Ecological status is determined on the basis of deviation from these type-specific reference conditions. Four rare river types, which are defined here as stretches of river that present naturally challenging combinations of environmental conditions for aquatic biota, were not adequately represented in the development of the existing national typology and so it is not known whether they were sufficiently characterised by the current 12 national river types or represent distinct types. The four potentially rare river types identified as being poorly represented or in some cases omitted entirely from the development of the national types were: 1) groundwater?dominated rivers; 2) highly calcareous rivers with calcium precipitation, 3) low conductivity, naturally acidic rivers; and 4) rivers strongly influenced by lakes. To determine if they were adequately charcterised by current river types, the biological communities of five potential reference sites from each rare type were analysed alongside the data used to define the national typology. Results showed that potential river types did not host communities sufficiently distinct from the national types to justify defining new national river types. The effectiveness of current assessment metrics was assessed across a gradient of pollution. The findings indicated that small adjustments in terms of indicator taxa may be needed in the application of some of the metrics. Overall, this work provides a solid foundation for making a series of decisions to improve assessment of the true ecological status of sites that fall under these headings.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn
University College Dublin

Dr Edel Hannigan
University College Dublin

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Data, Files, Information Objects Related To This Project Resource

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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource Keywordstypology, ecological status, lake outlets, calcium precitpitate, naturally acid, groundwater-dominated, reference conditions
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2013-W-FS-15
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeNot Applicable
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceThe authors would ask that datasets be kept private for 18months.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 0
Project Start Date Sunday 13th July 2014 (13-07-2014)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Tuesday 1st July 2014 (01-07-2014)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Friday 1st May 2015 (01-05-2015)
Published on SAFERMonday 4th July 2016 (04-07-2016)
Date of Last EditMonday 4th July 2016 at 16:03:10 (04-07-2016)
Datasets or Files Updated On Monday 4th July 2016 at 15:02:07 (04-07-2016)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
The sites surveyed in this project were located around the country. Sites were choosen based on their underlying geology and landuse. Naturally acid sites were located in areas with metamorphic/igneous geology while highly calcareous with precpitate and groundwater-dominated sites were located in areas with limestone geology. The majority of the sites surveyed were existing EPA river stations.The highly calcareous rivers with precipitate sampled were: Abbert (30A010500), Co. Galway, Caher (28C010200), Co. Clare, Glore (34G020200), Co. Mayo, Moy (34M020750), Co.Mayo, Shiven (26S030400), Co. Galway, Ballyfinboy (25B020800), Co. Tipperary, Dead (25D010100), Co. Tipperary, Skane (07S010600), Co. Meath, Deel (07D010600), Westmeath, and Clare (30C011100), Co. Galway. Groundwater-dominated rivers included Behy (34B080400), Co. Mayo, Black (30B020100), Co. Galway, Island (26I030300), Galway, Moyree (27M020700) Co. Clare, Nanny (30N010100), Co. Galway, Nuenna (15N020100), Co. Kilkenny, Bunnanaddan (35B080200), Co. Sligo, Gaine (26G010100), Co. Westmeath and Lough Lene-Adeel (07L030400), Co. Westmeath. Naturally acid sites were located mainly in Wicklow, Donegal and Galway. The Wicklow sites included Cloghoge (10A050005), Glenealo (10G50100), Lugduff (10L130940) and Vartry (10K140420). Bunadowen (01B010100) and Owenveagh (38O140080) were located in Donegal while Owengowla (31O020300) and Inflow into Lough Maumwee (30D140290) were on the west coast of Galway. The potential reference lake outlet sites were located mainly in Donegal (Gweedore (38G030100), Leannan (39L010100) and Owencarrow (38O030150)) though Newport (32N010020) in Mayo was also sampled. The impacted lake outlets were in Co. Cavan (Annalee 36A020150), Monaghan (Knappagh 36K010200, Fane 06F010300, and Gentle Owen's stream 06G040100) and Galway (Culfin 32C040040).

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
This project follows on from the 2005 RIVTYPE project that developed the current national rivers typology. The need for this project arose from the fact that rare or unusual river types i.e. stretches of river that present naturally challenging combinations of environmental conditions for aquatic biota, were either absent or poorly represented in the RIVTYPE project and so it was not known if they were adequately characterised by the current river types. In order to fulfill our WFD obligation of all surface waters meeting at least good status, it must be established that current reference types and metrics effectively describe and assess these rare river types.
Supplementary Information
Databases include water chemistry and biological data in the form of excel sheets. Methods of collection and analysis of these elements can be found in the final EPA report.

The main statistical package used in this project was Primer 6 and PERMANOVA from Primer-E Ltd. This programmes uses microsoft excel files.

cGIS 9 was used to locate and obtain physical charactistics of sites e.g. geology, soils etc.
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