A methodology for defining homogeneous water bodies in estuaries - Application to the transitional systems of the EU Water Framework Directive

J. G. Ferreira, A. M. Nobre, T. C. Simas, M. C. Silva, A. Newton, S. B. Bricker, W. J. Wolff, P. E. Stacey, A. Sequeira

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49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A methodology is developed and tested for division of estuarine and coastal systems into water bodies for monitoring and management purposes. This division is often implicit in the choice of sampling stations and in pollution abatement measures applied to different locations - it is now an explicit requirement of European Union Directive 2000/60/EC (Water Framework Directive) and recommended by United States Agencies such as EPA and NOAA. The approach considers both natural characteristics and the human dimension, by means of a stepwise methodology, which considers, on the one hand, morphology and salinity distribution, and, on the other, appropriate indicators of pressure and state. In the present application, nitrogen and phosphorus loading was used as the pressure component and chlorophyll a and dissolved oxygen as indicators of state. The criteria for system division were defined based on (1) an adimensional shape factor and salinity classes for the natural component; and (2) a normalised pressure index and (ASSETS) eutrophication symptom classes for the human dimension. Water quality databases and GIS were used to develop spatial distributions for the various components, and the results were aggregated into a final water body division, using tidal excursion as a "common sense" test. The methodology was applied to three well-studied systems in Portugal, a tubular estuary (Mondego), a wide lagunal estuary (Sado) and a coastal barrier island system (Ria Formosa). Although a final definition of water bodies will usually be a policy decision, this type of approach for the division of coastal systems into management units scientifically informs the decision-making process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-482
Number of pages15
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume66
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006

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    Ferreira, J. G., Nobre, A. M., Simas, T. C., Silva, M. C., Newton, A., Bricker, S. B., Wolff, W. J., Stacey, P. E., & Sequeira, A. (2006). A methodology for defining homogeneous water bodies in estuaries - Application to the transitional systems of the EU Water Framework Directive. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 66(3-4), 468-482.