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Evaluation of river basin restoration options by the application of the Water Framework Directive Explorer in the Zwalm River basin (Flanders, Belgium)
Mouton, A.M.; Van der Most, H.; Jeuken, A.; Goethals, P.L.M.; De Pauw, N. (2009). Evaluation of river basin restoration options by the application of the Water Framework Directive Explorer in the Zwalm River basin (Flanders, Belgium). River Res. Applic. 25(1): 82-97. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rra.1106
In: River Research and Applications. Wiley/Wiley & Sons: Chichester, West Sussex, UK. ISSN 1535-1459; e-ISSN 1535-1467, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Fresh water
Author keywords
    integrated river basin management; ecological modelling; macroinvertebrates; decision support systems; river restoration

Authors  Top 
  • Mouton, A.M., more
  • Van der Most, H.
  • Jeuken, A.
  • Goethals, P.L.M., more
  • De Pauw, N., more

    Water managers and researchers strive towards the same objective: the improvement of the quality status of water bodies. However, there is still a gap between the results of academic studies on water systems and the information currently used in water management. The Water Framework Directive (WFD)-Explorer, a modular toolbox which supports integrated water management in a river basin, attempts to bridge this gap. The toolbox analyses the impact of different restoration measures on river ecology based on expert rules embedded in this simulation environment. The strengths and weaknesses of the toolbox have been tested on the Zwalm River basin in Flanders, Belgium. The ecological status of streams in the basin spans the whole range of nearly pristine headwaters to severely impacted river stretches further downstream. Considering the key bottlenecks in the Zwalm basin and the user-driven ecological status objectives, several water quality and physical habitat restoration options have been proposed to meet the European Water Framework Directive goals. The positive impact of restoration measures on the ecological quality ratio (EQR) for macroinvertebrates appeared to be the highest for measures affecting the nutrient inflows and thus chemical water body characteristics. However, the spatial scale on which the WFD-Explorer modelled the impact of physical habitat restoration may have been too coarse to generate reliable results concerning such restoration measures. Hence, the combination of the WFD-Explorer results with those of more detailed studies on physical habitat restoration impacts might be a promising approach to reliably support decision-making implementation of the WFD.

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