Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Water status element at defining the ecologicaly acceptable flow

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.03  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology  Ecosystems 

Code Science Field
B003  Biomedical sciences  Ecology 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
ecological status, ecologically acceptable flow, rivers, Alps
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (22)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  13765  Darko Anzeljc  Hydrology  Technical associate  2014 - 2016  91 
2.  34222  Sabina Blumauer  Biology  Technical associate  2014 - 2015  98 
3.  31478  Maša Čarf  Biology  Technical associate  2014 - 2016  20 
4.  29839  Blažo Djurović  Hydrology  Technical associate  2014 - 2015  68 
5.  22616  PhD Tina Eleršek  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  264 
6.  30504  PhD Mojca Hrovat  Biology  Technical associate  2014 - 2016  73 
7.  30550  Aljaž Jenič  Biology  Technical associate  2014 - 2016  57 
8.  37414  PhD Miha Knehtl  Biology  Junior researcher  2014 - 2016  42 
9.  29850  Gregor Kolman  Hydrology  Technical associate  2014 - 2015  54 
10.  07744  PhD Gorazd Kosi  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  359 
11.  26067  PhD Aleksandra Krivograd Klemenčič  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2014 - 2015  303 
12.  23472  PhD Tanja Mohorko  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2014 - 2015  95 
13.  28470  PhD Maja Pavlin Urbanič  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  75 
14.  30338  PhD Vesna Petkovska  Biology  Technical associate  2014 - 2016  79 
15.  15318  PhD Samo Podgornik  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  114 
16.  20778  Dušan Rebolj    Technical associate  2014 - 2015  88 
17.  14836  PhD Nataša Smolar-Žvanut  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2015  747 
18.  35353  PhD Rebeka Šiling  Biology  Junior researcher  2014 - 2016  31 
19.  30391  Tone Tavčar    Technical associate  2014 - 2016 
20.  22766  PhD Gorazd Urbanič  Biology  Head  2014 - 2016  374 
21.  30611  Janez Zakrajšek  Hydrology  Technical associate  2014 - 2015  42 
22.  21452  PhD Igor Zelnik  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  232 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,448 
2.  0211  Institut for Water of the Republic of Slovenia  Ljubljana  5055253  738 
3.  0414  Fisheries Research Institute of Slovenia  Ljubljana - Šmartno  5164117  233 
4.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  67,203 
Ecologically acceptable flow (Qes) is one of measures that supports achievement of good status of water bodies according to the Water Framework Directive (WFD). When methods of ecologically acceptable flow were set aims of the WFD - that is good status of water bodies - were not considered. The aim of our research is to find out whether criteria for Qes enable to achieve good ecological status of streams and rivers according to WFD and to provide suggestions for improvement of the Qes method  in Slovenia. The research project will be structured in nine work packages (WP). WP1 represents project management that will ensure implementation of the project according to the project proposal. WP2 will include scientific literature review and collection of information which hydrological parameters are best related to aquatic communities and ecological assessment methods. In WP3 an overview of the Qes methods will be prepared. Special attention will be given to those Qes methods that include aims of the WFD. In WP4 – WP7 the gathering of data and testing of »f« values determined for rivers with a catchment between 10 and 100 km2 of the ecoregion Alps will be done; f value determines amount of the water in the river according to the Slovenian Qes method. In the WP4 pressure analyses will be performed for streams in the ecoregion Alps. Based on these analyses 8-10 streams with small hydroelectric power plants (HPP) and with no other major pressure will be selected. On selected stream measurements of hydrological parameters will be conducted; at the sampling site located upstream of the small HPP, at the section with abstracted water and downstream of the small HPP. Collected data will be analysed and several hydrological parameters will be calculated, including those that are used in the Slovenian Qes method (mean low flow). All hydrological measurements and analyses will be part of the WP5. In the WP6 ecological assessment of selected 8-10 streams will be done. Physico-chemical parameters will be sampled four times, once in each season. Survey of hydromorphological characteristics and sampling of biological quality elements (phytobenthos, fish and benthic invertebrates) will be done once, in the summer period, following one year of hydrological measurements. Ecological assessment of selected streams will be done according to Slovenian ecological assessment methods; biological methods were intercalibrated at the European Union level. Besides the data collected in this project, additional data will be used that were collected as a part of the programme for development of the ecological status assessment methods. However, all data will have to fulfil the pressure data criteria set in the WP4. Relationships between ecological assessment method results and values of the hydrological parameters will be studied in the WP7. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses using biological and hydrological data will be performed. Values of factors »f« of the Qes method will be tested in order to evaluate whether they meet the requirements of the WFD. In the WP8 an improved version of the Qes method will be prepared. The method will take into account the aims of the WFD – achieving good ecological status. WP9 will be dedicated to dissemination of the project results. Dissemination will include the interested experts, Ministry of agriculture and environment, and results will also be presented at the professional and scientific meetings. Our project will contribute to improved knowledge of relationships between hydrological parameters and aquatic communities. A proposal of the improved Qes methodology will be prepared, including the ecological status assessment elements and the aims of the WFD. The research will contribute to new scientific knowledge and, moreover, to the knowledge that could be used for achievement of the WFD aims and sustainable water use in Slovenia and Europe.
Significance for science
The relevance of hydrological regime characteristics for the development of physical river features and aquatic assemblages has been known for a long time. Hence, due to the growing use of water and rivers for different needs there is also an increase in number of approaches for ecologically acceptable flow (Qes) determination, which would enable sustainable use of water and near-water ecosystems. The weakness of former studies is notably unsystematic gathering of hydrological parameters’ data and lack of whole stressor range coverage (from unchanged hydrological regime to completely modified one). In our research a whole range of hydrological regime conditions on small alpine rivers was used and new data was gained on rivers sections under the influence of water abstraction due to small hydropower plants. Research findings hence firstly mean a good contribution to understanding of linkage between pressures due to hydrological regime change and aquatic assemblages. With the findings from different stressors and multiples stressors analyses we add to improved understanding of multiple stressor effect on water ecosystem and address considerable meaning of their co-influence. The methods for ecological status assessment based on biological quality elements were mostly not developed distinctly enough to differentiate among different pressure types (Rinaldi et al., 2013). Best-case the developed methods respond to all hydromorphological stressors at the same time, but mostly the hydromorphological modification is covered by general degradation assessment. There are already developed ecological status assessment systems using biological quality elements in Slovenia, considering different pressure types (Urbanič et al., 2013, 2015), among which also hydromorphological modification. During our research the response of existing methods for hydromorphological status assessment using different biological quality elements on hydrological stressors were verified and also observed. Besides, we indicated in what share biological quality elements respond particularly to hydrological modifications and what is their dependence on other hydromorphological stressors. On the national level the research findings bring new scientific knowledge not only in the field of water management but also limnological and common biological profession, since no other studies on the relationships between hydrological parameters and ecological status quality elements in accordance with Water Framework Directive exist. Based on the findings now the framework exists for the understanding of the relationship between Qes and ecological status quality elements in ecoregion Alps, what’s more it supports the overall understanding of the influence of hydrological regime changes and facilitates further research in areas of other ecoregions. On the international level our findings are an important systematic addition to existing knowledge, enabling the comparison with similar studies. Nevertheless, the project represents a good example of interdisciplinary achievement due to the inclusion of different subjects and experts from biology, chemistry, civil engineering, geography, water management and other fields, and also results are useful for variety of professions on different levels.
Significance for the country
There is a large number of small hydropower plants in Slovenia, the largest part of it on Alpine rivers, where many of them operate on the basis of water abstraction from streams/rivers. In existing water rights' grants for small hydropower plants the influence on river status in accordance with the valid European water legislation was rarely considered. Besides, using the Decree on criteria for determination and on the mode of monitoring and reporting of ecologically acceptable flow in Slovenia (Decree on Qes), used for determination of ecologically acceptable flow (Qes) for new applications for water rights, mostly the determination of Qes does not consider the goals of Water Framework Directive (European legislation), such as gaining good water body status. Hence, it is of utmost importance to comply criteria for water rights, which will meet the requirements of the valid European water legislation, momentarily Water Framework Directive. Within our project different water abstractions due to small hydropower plants' operation were chosen and cooperation with water rights' owners was established. On the sections with water abstraction influence new samplings of aquatic assemblages were conducted and the results were combined with larger database from public procurements. The relationships between the altered hydrological regime and hydromorphological status assessment, using existing ecological status assessment methods based on different biological quality elements, were analyzed. Dealing with water abstraction issues we also connected different ministries. Using project findings we developed a tool for water abstraction calculation with regard to ecological status, hence the calculation to meet the principles of the valid European water legislation. Using the tool we presented the expectations, on which values of stressor indices water abstraction would be possible and to what amount, if the aim was good or very good water body status. We believe that due to its transparency and flexibility the tool will be accepted among hydropower producers, which will consequently influence environment improvement and positively perceptions of electric energy users. The findings of our project with the developed tool might help institutes for nature conservation, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, and Ministry of Economic Development and Technology for prediction of existing and planned water abstraction influence on water ecosystem. Besides, the developed tool might be helpful for new water rights applicants. The findings and results of the project will be the basis for update and upgrade of Decree on Qes in the future, and will also most likely be used in future river basin management plans in Slovenia.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, final report
Views history