A Comprehensive Monitoring and Assessment Survey on the Danube

Ivan Zavadsky1 and Igor Liska1




1 International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River - ICPDR, Vienna International Centre, Wagramer Strasse 5, A-1220 Vienna, Austria





The JDS3 provided the largest volume of knowledge about the Danube River Basin ever collected through a single scientific exercise. Overall, the results of the JDS3 assessments again confirmed that cooperation in the Danube River Basin continues to reap rewards. The waters and life within them are progressively becoming healthier and safer for all. However, some problems still require measures to solve them. All the results and findings of JDS3 provide an exceptional database for the Danube countries which can be used for the river basin management planning at the national level not only because of the large amount and unique character of the produced data but especially due to their homogeneity enabling a good transboundary intercomparison.

Keywords: The Danube, water quality monitoring, water sampling, EU Water Framework Directive, ecological status, chemical status, microbiology.





The Joint Danube Survey 3 (JDS3) was the world's biggest river research expedition in 2013 (Liska et al. 2015, ICPDR 2015). In line with the monitoring strategy of the ICPDR the JDSis carried out every six years – JDS1 was in 2001 and JDS2 in 2007. For six weeks between August and September 2013, the JDS3 ships travelled 2,375 km downstream the Danube River to the Danube Delta, assessing the Danube and many of its tributaries. The JDS3 catalyzed international cooperation from the 14 main Danube Basin countries and the European Commission. It was coordinated by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). An international JDS3 Core Team of 20 scientists was responsible for sampling, sample processing, on-board analyses and all survey activities. The general objective of the JDS3 was to undertake an international longitudinal survey that would produce comparable and reliable information on water quality for the whole of the length of the Danube River including the major tributaries on a short-term basis. The outcomes of the JDS3 cover the information gaps needed for a sound implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD, European Commission, 2000). JDS3 had also a number of specific objectives which were expected to contribute to a better knowledge and understanding of the Danube water quality:

  • Support to the revision of the Danube River Basin District Management Plan;
  • Evaluation and comparison of assessment methods for large rivers;
  • Monitoring of new candidate priority substances;
  • Identification and prioritization of Danube River Basin specific substances;
  • Trend analysis for Danube River Basin relevant substances;
  • Highlighting the link between surface water and groundwater pollution;
  • Investigation of quality of sediments;
  • Harmonization of sampling methods for WFD biological quality elements;
  • Investigation of invasive alien species;
  • Improvement of hydromorphological assessment with the view of developing a harmonized approach for the Danube;
  • Interlinking hydromorphology and biology (habitat quality);
  • Interlinking chemistry – biology – microbiology;
  • Support to future Intercalibration exercise in the Danube River Basin District;
  • Specific investigations (zooplankton, microbiology);
  • Testing new methods;
  • Training/learning by doing;
  • Public awareness raising.