’Smart Monitoring’ integrates innovative water quality assessment methods

22 May 2018

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) dictates that all European surface waters must achieve a good chemical- and ecological quality. Current water quality assessment methods have both scientific and practical limitations.

Existing approaches under the WFD focus on analyzing 45 priority compounds to assess the chemical status, and generating species lists of fish, plants, algae and invertebrates to assess the ecological status. ‘Smart Monitoring’ aims to innovate chemical- and ecological water quality assessment.

Results of the pilot (click to download)


An important benchmark for the research was the national monitoring campaign conducted in 2016 in which innovative tools were applied in a nationwide water quality assessment in The Netherlands. During 6 weeks passive samplers were exposed in the field taking up compounds from the surface waters. Thereafter, a battery of bioassays was exposed to the extracts from these passive samplers. The campaign resulted in a confirmation of the applicability of the Smart Monitoring methodology. Investigated locations were ranked according to eco-toxicological risk, which allowed for prioritization of locations in pollution management. 

Final campaign

Since the pilot, innovative sampling and assessment techniques were tested and further developed. All successful developments will be applied simultaneously in the final campaign. In this campaign, we aim to assess the interplay between eco-toxicological risks of surface water and sediment and ecosystem structure and functioning at locations with distinct land-use types, i.e. nature, extensive grassland, bulb fields, metal industry, and wastewater treatment plants. This integration of the three research lines - ecotoxicology of surface water and sediments and ecology – will lead to a better understanding of water quality and an improved, innovative water quality monitoring strategy.

Smart Monitoring Programme

The project ‘Smart Monitoring’ is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam in collaboration with 13 Dutch water boards, Rijkswaterstaat and STOWA. The programme was launched in 2015 and funds two PhD projects carried out at IBED-UvA: Milo de Baat (eco-toxicoloy) and Gea van der Lee (ecology). 

Published by  IBED Water