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The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) is one of the most important legislative instruments in the water field. The overarching objective of the policy is the achievement of a “good status” in all waters of European Member States by the end of 2015. Important milestones include the analysis of pressures and impacts, a characterisation of water bodies and monitoring programmes.

The effectiveness of these monitoring programmes and hence of the overall WFD implementation will depend highly on the ability of Member States’ laboratories to measure the status of water bodies. The chemical status of water bodies is linked to compliance with EU Environmental Quality Standards defined in a daughter directive. In order to assess the chemical status, a number of priority substances and priority hazardous substances have to be monitored. Requirements on the analytical methods to be used for chemical monitoring are laid down in terms of technical specifications by another daughter directive.

In some cases, the requirements on analytical methods (e.g. limit of quantification and measurement uncertainty) for chemical monitoring under WFD pose a real challenge, even for state-of-the-art analytical techniques. This has initiated a number of European activities in the development of guidance documents, harmonisation efforts and demand-driven research.

The main tasks, challenges and research needs related to chemical monitoring of water bodies under the WFD are presented, including an outlook on how these issues are tackled. This is completed by the presentation of actual chemical monitoring results from surface waters from the Republic of Ireland.

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