CNR-IRSA activities related to INHABIT

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In this section, some results and documents related to WFD general issues are reported. River typology and Reference condition approaches will be considered, according to WFD requirements and especially referred to the Italian situation. The definition of reference condition criteria and the selection of reference sites, strictly related to typology, is highly relevant for the WFD implementation, because ecological status evaluation is based on reference condition estimation.

Water Framework Directive (WFD 2000/60/EC – ‘Establishing a Framework for Community Action in the Field of Water Policy’), published in October 2000, defines innovative criteria and actions for the classification of ecological status of European water bodies; it also sets out management actions for water bodies, in order to improve their overall quality status. WFD implementation required Member States to adopt important scientific and technical adjustments, to make national classification systems compliant with the new normative regulation.
CNR-IRSA has significantly contributed to the development and completion of the process for updating methods and classification systems, to ensure the proper implementation of the WFD both at Italian and European level. More specifically, IRSA has coordinated the development of typological systems for Italian rivers and lakes, necessary for the classification (grouping) of water bodies and for proper calibration of the so-called "reference conditions". Reference conditions are the key elements for the calculation of Ecological Quality Ratios (EQR). In this regard, on the basis of European guidelines, CNR-IRSA has also developed criteria and procedures for the selection of reference sites /conditions.
The Institute has also worked to define threshold values ​​for certain priority pollutants and to illustrate the use of hydromorphological and habitat information in the classification of river water bodies. Lastly - perhaps the action on which IRSA has put more resources - new protocols for macroinvertebrates sampling in rivers in different environmental conditions were defined and ecological status classification systems, based on the same biological quality element, were developed. The above mentioned activities have been integrated into an overall national (Italian) framework in 2009.
At the European level, a biological index subsequently adopted by most European countries within the intercalibration process (IC) - required by the WFD - has been developed and recommended. Through the intercalibration process classification systems of different countries were compared and their class boundaries harmonized, where necessary. The set of the boundary value between good and moderate status is, in particular, of key importance, for it defines as well the threshold between “good” status, i.e. corresponding to WFD quality objectives, and below-good status. The Intercalibration process provides, through a complex balance of financial resources on a European scale aimed at making comparable management costs of aquatic ecosystems, a fair and comparable achievement of quality objectives in the different Member States.
The above mentioned activities represent the transmission to applicative issues of the results of scientific investigations carried out by the CNR-IRSA in a number of projects, mostly co-financed by the European Community, e.g. AQEM, STAR, REBECCA, Eurolimpacs. Listed below are some examples of such results, related to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive.
• Creation of the ICM approach (Intercalibration Common Metric) for the European  WFD Intercalibration process, later became one of the most widely used standard.
• Development of a multimetric system for the intercalibration of biological methods for rivers, based on benthic invertebrates (STAR_ICMi), adopted as the official method in most of Europe (Central, Mediterranean and Nordic GIGs) (including integrations in technical documents supporting European normative framework).
• Introduction of the STAR_ICMi index in some Mediterranean countries (Italy, Cyprus, Greece). STAR_ICMi  was afterwards adopted as an official method to define class boundaries for ecological status (macroinvertebrates, rivers), with integration in the Community framework and national legislation.
• Development of the MacrOper classification system for the classification of Ecological Status of rivers on the basis of aquatic macroinvertebrates for WFD operational monitoring, included in the Italian regulatory framework (DM classification).
• Coordination of the activities of the Italian Ministry of Environment for developing an Italian typology for rivers, subsequently integrated into the national legislation (DL 16.6.2008, 131).
• Drafting of the criteria for the selection of reference sites for rivers, and related indices for the purposes of the implementation of the WFD, integrated into the national legislation (DM 14.04.2009, 56).
• Development of methods for the collection of river macroinvertebrates for the purposes of the implementation of the WFD, adopted as a national standard, integrated into the national legislation (DM 14.04.2009, 56).
• Development of a method for the collection of habitat and hydro-morphological information in rivers, and related indices: the CARAVAGGIO method (included in DM 260, 2010 together with large spatial scale based methods).
• Development of a multimetric classification system organized into type-specific modules for the monitoring and classification of Italian streams, for the purpose of the WFD surveillance monitoring of the WFD, still in progress.
To support the use of the developed methods and classification systems, CNR-IRSA - in some cases in collaboration with the University of Tuscia (DECOS) - has created a set of software, e.g. ICMeasy, CARAVAGGIOsoft, MacrOper.ICM to support Environment Agencies, Regions and Provinces in the management of large amounts of collected data and in the calculation - sometimes not straightforward - of the quality indices.