The SIMONA Sediment-quality Information, Monitoring and Assessment System:
A Danube Transnational Programme project to support transnational cooperation for joint Danube Basin water management: Results and Perspectives
The 3 Test Areas (Drava, Upper Tisza, South Danube) (coloured circles) and the National Baseline Points in each Danube Basin Country (red dots). Pictures show sampling by the trained national experts (left) and the on-site lecture room and field training events (right and bottom).
T he SIMONA Project is the long-needed response to pressing demand for effective use of sediment quality assessment for EU River Basin Management Plans. SIMONA evolved from the pan-European FOREGS and GEMAS geochemical mapping projects and is based on a decade-long effort of promoting harmonised monitoring and assessment of sediments in the Danube Basin. 31 partners representing the whole Danube Basin have delivered the ready-to-deploy SIMONA Tool, consisting of harmonised sediment sampling, analysis and assessment protocols, practical guidelines, manuals, professional videos, solid case studies and training materials. SIMONA’s methods have been tested, demonstrated and trained in three transnational Test Areas and applied by trained government experts in two designated monitoring points in each country. All the procedures are supported by the SIMONA IT Tool, an online application for transparent sediment quality monitoring data collection, management, visualisation, evaluation and reporting according to EU WISE standards. The knowledge generated this way is published in international scientific journals, and most of the main outcomes overlap with those of the independently running Joint Danube Survey 4, providing synergic support for ICPDR.
The inventory has shown that significant gaps exist in the sediment quality sampling, laboratory and evaluation procedures in the Danube Basin Countries. Harmonisation of sediment quality monitoring is essential for basin-wide transnational river basin management driven by informed decisions. Efficient harmonisation calls for a strict application of quality assurance and quality control measures. Regular international expert training is a major tool for harmonisation. Sediments are highly site-specific, requiring high-quality expert knowledge for monitoring site selection, monitoring network development and maintenance, site-specific sampling, analysis and assessment. The mobilisation of stakeholder and government agency personnel from all countries in various working groups was key to the project’s success, and substantial value was added by the great number of actively participating experts in the intense hands-on monitoring exercises, significantly strengthening cooperation in WFD-related monitoring and assessment among the countries in the Danube River Basin.
Capacity-building of laboratories responsible for monitoring is an immediate need, as is the introduction of interlaboratory trials and training on sampling and analysis. The development of a sediment quality monitoring network should follow a tiered approach, prioritising sites, and sites need to be monitored for movement of sediment appropriate for sampling. Significant gaps exist in the understanding sediments in relation to climate change and impacts of river basin management, calling for long-term regular sediment quality monitoring at selected key sites in the Danube Basin.