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Environment - Understanding the environment and the impacts of green technologies
"To improve the scientific basis upon which the quality of inland and coastal waterways are monitored, assessed and managed through the Water Framework Directive."

The problem

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to improve the quality of coastal and inland waterways by setting targets and standards against which to measure them. This requires a sound understanding of the links between the ecological status of surface water and its physico-chemical quality, both natural and as a result of human influence. These associations need to be identified through the analysis of existing information and new models for designing and assessing monitoring programmes should be developed.

REBECCA  Relationships between ecological and chemical status of surface waters


REBECCA will assess the available data and develop new models to improve the scientific basis for the implementation of the WFD.

The project will:

  • Collate and organise existing knowledge of relationships between physico-chemical and ecological status in EU waterways
  • Determine gaps in the knowledge base and appropriate assessment models
  • Identify and test appropriate biological indices of environmental stress
  • Develop and validate models and statistical tools for assessing the links between the ecological and physico-chemical quality of water

Contribution to policy development:

  • Improved scientific understanding to ensure the achievement and maintenance of the good status of surface and ground water
  • The provision of more robust numerical models and monitoring protocols for the management and maintenance of high-quality inland and coastal waterways
  • Harmonisation of the methods and criteria by which water quality is assessed and the WFD implemented

Project deliverables

  • Review of current methods and knowledge for fresh and coastal waters – start December 2003, end December 2004
  • A comprehensive range of biological indicators for monitoring the status of fresh and marine waters – start January 2004, end June 2006
  • Statistical and modelling methods assessing the relationships between ecological and chemical status in different lake types and different geographical regions – start January 2003, end September 2006.
  • A suite of standard monitoring and assessment protocols for use throughout the EU – start December 2004, end September 2006.


  • Website update – at least quarterly
  • Stakeholder workshops – December 2004 and December 2006
  • Publicly accessible web-based ‘tool-box’ of models, methods and protocols updated regularly from December 2004 onwards

Technical information

Project acronym: REBECCA
Project’s official full title: Relationships between ecological and chemical status of surface waters
Research priority: 1.5. Environmental assessment (soil, water, air, noise, including the effects of chemical substances)
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 502158
Start date: 1 December 2003
Kick off meeting: February 2004
Completion date: December 2006
European Commission scientific officer: Mogens Gadeberg (

Name: Finnish Environment Institute 
Abbreviated name: SYKE
Address: Mechelininkatu 34a
P.O. Box 140
Country: Finland
Tel: +358 9 403 000


Name: Joint Research Centre
Abbreviated name: JRC
Country: EC

Name: Norwegian Institute for Water Research
Abbreviated name: NIVA
Country: Norway

Name: National Environmental Research Institute
Abbreviated name: NERI
Country: Denmark

Name: DHI Water and Environment
Abbreviated name: DHI
Country: Denmark

Name: WL | Delft Hydraulics
Abbreviated name: WL|Delft
Country: The Netherlands

Name: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Abbreviated name: NERC/CEH
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Centre National du Machinisme Agricole, du Génie Rural, des Eaux et des Forêts
Abbreviated name: Cemagref
Country: France

Name: Water Research Institute
Abbreviated name: IRSA
Country: Italy

Name: Swedish Environmental Research Institute
Abbreviated name: IVL
Country: Sweden

Name: Trinity College Dublin
Abbreviated name: TCD
Country: Ireland

Name: Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute
Abbreviated name: SHMI
Country: Slovak Republic

Name: Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e das Pescas
Abbreviated name: IPIMAR
Country: Portugal 

Name: University of Antwerp
Abbreviated name: UA
Country: Belgium

Name: Danube Delta National Institute
Abbreviated name: DDNI
Country: Romania 

Name: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
Abbreviated name: NINA
Country: Norway

Name: Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment
Abbreviated name: RIZA
Country: The Netherlands 

Name: Tallinn Technical University
Abbreviated name: TTU
Country: Estonia

Name: Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Abbreviated name: SLU
Country: Sweden