SOLUTIONS for present and future emerging pollutants in land and water resources management

SOLUTIONS was an EU European Union (European Union)-FP7 project (2013-2018) initiated after a call for proposal by the European Commission on the need to improve principles and practices for protection, assessment and management of chemical pollution under the EU-Water Framework Directive. That Directive aims at having sufficient water of good quality throughout Europe. At the time of the call (2012), the good quality status was not reached for many water bodies in Europe, and in many cases, chemical pollutants were amongst the diagnosed pressure agents.

Project results

The SOLUTIONS project resulted in a suite of products. Most relevant for water quality protection, assessment, and management is a series of Policy Briefs. Those summarise the results of scientific investigations into practicable approaches and incentives. 

Similarly relevant for practice is the suite of approaches and tools that enable responsible authorities, stakeholders and Europe’s citizens at large to evaluate chemical pollution of surface waters. The suite of approaches is provided in the RiBaTox web tool, as described in the Policy Brief Chemical pollution assessment tools

The policy- and practice-oriented results were derived on the basis of a vast number of scientific publications (a few hundred), covering chemical-based methods, effect-based methods (bioassays) and ecological inventory assessment results. All research findings demonstrated that chemical pollution in Europe’s surface waters exists, and that it forms a limitation towards maintaining or reaching a good ecological status as well as to the clean-up efforts when producing drinking water from raw surface water sources.

In close collaboration between the SOLUTIONS project (on chemical pollution) and the MARS project, the scholar research demonstrated that the initial call for both projects was relevant: the collaborative effort showed that water quality was affected, and that that could be attributed to multiple pressures (such as nutrients and hydro morphological changes) in concert with chemical pollutant mixtures. Quantitatively, the impacts of the pressures on ecological status throughout Europe could be attributed, on average for 26% to chemical pollution. These results are described in the Freshwater Blog post: Multiple stressors shape river ecosystems across Europe.

Role of RIVM

The role of RIVM in the SOLUTIONS project was prepared (before 2013) by both strategic research (Strategic Programme RIVM) as well as by projects commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment. Upon finalisation of SOLUTIONS, the project results were taken up in the Dutch Stimulation Program on Water Quality (Kennisimpuls Waterkwaliteit, STOWA), and worked out as a website: That website collates the scientific and practical findings of SOLUTIONS, MARS and the Knowledge Impulse in a way geared towards practical utility for water quality management professionals. Those are provided with geographical maps that provide insights on toxic pressure levels of whole mixtures and specific compound groups (Atlas-maps on Nature Today), as incentive for prioritisation of management, and with a suite of tools to prevent or reduce chemical pollution.  


SOLUTIONS was an FP7 programme funded by the European Commission under grant agreement no. 603437.