Authors:Caroline Wynne and Ian Donohue
Summary: The objective of the current study was to develop a method to predict the ecological status of unmonitored lakes to fulfil the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
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Hydrological, geological and morphological characteristics (i.e. lake setting) of Irish lake catchments were used to group lakes based on their similarities. This characterisation allowed the description of the impacts of different land uses on lakes, providing a framework for assessing lakes of similar setting and pressure. This process identified an increase in the type and intensity of pressure across the lakes groupings based on alkalinity. The research also highlighted that understanding a lake’s setting is important in predicting the effects of land use pressures on lake water quality.
The current study provides a framework to predict ecological status for unmonitored lakes for the purposes of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Our findings highlight how the impacts of similar pressures differ depending on hydrogeomorphological characteristics of a catchment and lake. This knowledge can be incorporated into land use planning policies to assist in meeting our water quality objectives under national and EU legislation.
Prediction of water quality across a greater number of Irish lakes using this method would also assist in the planning and resource allocation for programmes of measures required to improve water quality through catchment management.