Aquatic ecology

Expert reports on aquatic ecology with reference to the Water Framework Directive (WRRL)

The legal requirements on water management, water use, and water pollution control are governed by the Water Framework Directive (WRRL) and the Water Resources Act (WHG).

The objectives and principles of the WRRL are outlined in §§ 27 et seq.. According to these paragraphs, surface waters have to be treated in a way which ensures that an acceptable ecological and chemical status is maintained or restored.

In this connection, the so-called “concept of no deterioration” applies according to § 27 WHG, which specifies that a deterioration of the ecological and chemical status of waters has to be completely avoided. Furthermore, the so-called requirement for improvement is valid, which says that a good ecological and chemical status has to be maintained or restored.

In accordance with the provisions of the WRRL in connection with the WHG, the use of water must not negatively impact the ecological and chemical status of waters. Likewise, the use of waters must nor prevent the restoration of the ecological or chemical status of waters.

In this connection the following types of water usage are relevant for plant operators:

• extraction of surface water
• discharge of waste water into open waters
• discharge of cooling water into open waters
• construction measures in or at open waters

An expert inspection is required under the following conditions:

• new permits for water management
• renewal/modification of an existing water law permission
• but eventually (discretion of the competent authority) also modification of plants which cause an increase of waste water although the values defined by the water law permit are met

Within the framework of an expert report on water ecology, the engineers of Müller-BBM record, analyse and evaluate the following items:

• Assessment and evaluation of the ecological and chemical status
• General description of water usage types
• Hydromorphological quality components (e. g. water discharges, morphology)
• Physico-chemical quality elements (e. g. temperature, oxygen balance, concentration of nutrients and pollutants)
• Biological quality elements (e.g. fishes)

Assessment of the expected impact on the ecological and chemical status, inter alia

• Hydromorphological quality components
• Physico-chemical quality elements
• Inputs of contaminants and nutrients by discharge of waste water
• Influence on water temperature by thermal discharge
• Influence on oxygen balance
• Changes of concentration of pollutants/pollutant loads in waters
• Biological quality elements
• Effects by inputs of contaminants and nutrients
• Effects caused by the influence of the water temperature
• Effects by the influence on the oxygen balance
• Summarizing assessment of the potential effect on the ecological and chemical status

Müller-BBM elaborates hydro-ecological expert reports for all branches of trade and industry with direct discharges into open water and for municipal waste water treatment facilities.
The reports are elaborated as separate documents or together with other Müller-BBM experts in the course of complex licensing procedures.

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