New methods for
water pollution control
in river basins
Improving your river
status with new tools
Different land use forms (e.g. forestry, agriculture and peat
production) affect all levels of river ecosystems through
loading of suspended solids, nutrients, metals and acidifying
substances. These environmental impacts can, however, be
diminished in many ways. In land use planning the river basin
should be taken as a whole and the existing water pollution
control methods (e.g. sedimentation basins, buffer zones and
wetlands) should be taken into more effective use.
To realise the aims of maintaining and improving the
aquatic environments in the Community according to the
EU Water Policy Framework Directive (WFD), knowledge
of a wide area of river ecology and water pollution control
methods is needed. In addition practical tools are needed for
the cost-effective integrated management and monitoring of
The RiverLife project supported by the LIFE Environment
programme of the European Union and by many Finnish ministries,
regional public funds and private companies, was aimed to develop
a new, practical tool for sustainable river basin management -
available to anyone through the Internet. This interactive computer-
based Decision Support System, RiverLifeDSS, helps local and
regional authorities, private companies and consultants to integrate
environmental considerations into land use planning and management
practices in river basins.
The other objectives of the RiverLife project were
To help all interested parties from decision makers to school
pupils to find information on rivers in one place on the Internet
To intensify water pollution control by informing about the
existing water pollution control measures for different land use
To promote ecologically sustainable land use in river basins
To formulate guidelines for cost-effective and adequate river
status assessment and monitoring in Finland according to the EU
Water Policy Framework Directive
To improve environmental awareness on biology and water
pollution control in different target groups from decision makers
to school pupils
To mark the gaps in the existing knowledge on water pollution
control of rivers and river status assessment.
To reach these objectives a consortium of researchers from
the Finnish environmental administration, universities, research
institutes and private companies was gathered.
Suomen Ilmakuva Oy
Use the Internet to know
more about rivers
Information for sustainable water pollution control and management
in river basins has been gathered in information packages to
the RiverLife web site http://www.vyh.fi/eng/research/euproj/riverl/
index.htm. These packages can be found in Finnish, English and partly
also in Swedish.
The information packages tell you for example about
How the river ecosystem is structured and how it functions
The fishes in rivers and the animals and algae living in the river
The effects of land use and harmful substances on river
What monitoring a river requires
The different measures to reduce loading from different
land use forms
In the RiverLife toolbox there is
lots to discover!
In the RiverLife toolbox on the Internet everything was collected for
you into one place. These tools and methods can be found in English
and in Finnish.
RiverLifeDSS assists you in land use planning and environmental
impact assessment in the river basin. It contains the following tools:
GIS-tool gives comprehensible graphic presentations of
information on the river basin.
Hydrological model assists in estimating the effects of land use
actions and other types of loading on the flow and quality of
the River Basin Analysis you can form an overall view
of the ecological state in the drainage area and in the river beds,
the factors affecting the ecological state and the need for water
pollution control in the river basin.
Ecological risk analysis you can use for environmental impact
assessment in rivers
Different monitoring and status assessment methods are
needed to evaluate river condition:
Division of the river network for the examination of the river basin
Monitoring silting of river bottom
Assessment of water quality by diatom and zoobenthos methods
Methods suitable for managing fish stocks
and studying the state of the stocks
Automated monitoring and control system in a river
Biotests and other methods for monitoring harmful substances
Different water parameter analyses and what they
tell about the river
Water pollution control methods to reduce the effects of land use
in agriculture, forestry and peat production. Information on the
effectiveness of different methods and points to consider when
planning to construct one were gathered to the RiverLife web
Tasks for school pupils to learn
more about the life and management
of rivers - also in English!
The nature and management of rivers are now introduced in
a web-based learning environment. This environment is designed
mainly for pupils of upper level comprehensive school, upper
secondary school and polytechnic schools. The tasks on the
Internet provide a possibility for independent and group work.
Even co-operational learning between schools becomes easier
through these networks.
This web site includes:
EXERCISES that can be done in
a web environment or downloaded
and printed out on paper.
A PHOTO GALLERY with a wide selection
of photos of different rivers, river
habitats, aquatic flora and fauna,
as well as of water pollution control
methods for agriculture, forestry and
A TEACHER’S INFORMATION PACKAGE
on web-based teaching.
the three target river
The project included three target rivers in
Finland. The applicability of the tools developed in
the project has been tested and demonstrated in
these rivers. The requirements of the EU Water
Policy Framework Directive on the management
plans were taken into account when making
proposals for the monitoring programmes and how
to place water pollution control measures in the
target river basins.
THE RIVER SIMOJOKI in Lapland is one of the
last salmon rivers in Finland. The silting of the
river bottom threatens the salmon in the river.
A general level management plan has been
completed using the River Basin Analysis and
proposals for monitoring programme and where
to direct the water pollution control measures in
the river basin were completed. The proposals
© Karttakeskus Oy, lupa L2175/98
will be used in another project to develop water
pollution control in the river basin.
In THE RIVER SIURUANJOKI a general level management plan
has been completed using River Basin Analysis and RiverLifeDSS.
This humic river suffers from eutrophication and silting.
The management plan has been completed together with
a project financed by structural funds from the European Union.
The proposals made in the management plan will be realised in
the river basin by this new project.
THE RIVER KYRÖNJOKI is one of the national pilot river basins
testing the implementation of the WFD in Finland. This humic
river has problems deriving from strong water level regulation
and soil originated acidity. A plan for its ecological monitoring and
management was drawn up. An automated river monitoring and
controlling system has been constructed and tested in the River
Kyrönjoki. With the automatic stations the quality of river water
can be monitored in real time to catch up any acute changes in
water quality. The stations can also be used for performing tests
on river biota with qualitatively variable river water.
Problem in the river
Impacts of land derived
loading on the river
Methods to monitor
Harmful substances in the
Classification of river
• geology of the drainage
• physical and chemical
• structure of the river
quality of water
• automatic monitoring
• ecological risk analysis
Structure and functioning
of the river ecosystem
To improve monitoring of river status
The results of
the RiverLife project
benefit the environment
and economy in many ways
It is now easy to find information on river water pollution
control methods and monitoring on the Internet: by using
adequate methods in water pollution control the water quality
and ecological state of rivers can be improved. In addition by
using adequate monitoring methods changes in river state can be
observed in time. Both of these factors create cost-effectiveness.
The tools developed will benefit private companies, whose
activities in land use (in peat production, agriculture and forestry)
are based on a better knowledge on loading assessment and
effects of loading on water ecology. This will improve not only
the water quality and ecological state of rivers, but will also
increase cost-effectiveness in land use planning.
The work of authorities, when implementing e.g. the EU Water
Policy Framework Directive, and the work of private companies
in water pollution control of rivers will be made easier with
the tools which help to consider the whole river basin. This also
An automated river monitoring and controlling system has been
tested in Finland in the River Kyrönjoki. This system gives
continuous and detailed information about water chemistry and
hydrology. Thus a deterioration in water quality can quickly be
responded to by changing the river flow.
People participating in the organised dissemination occasions
have obtained information on the river and its management.
By increasing the awareness on these matters that influence
the well-being of rivers people become more involved and
concerned about their river. With the tasks for schools also the
young people can learn more about life in rivers and how to
control water pollution.
In the long term the results will benefit private companies whose
activity depends on the good state of rivers (drinking water
supply, aquaculture, fishery, fishing and nature tourism).
New projects (e.g. in the Kola river in Russia) have initiated
to improve water pollution control in river basins using
the tools and methods gathered in RiverLifeDSS and to
fulfill the gaps in the existing knowledge on water pollution
control of rivers and on river status assessment.
Satu Maaria Karjalainen
THE RIVERLIFE TOOLBOX
River status assessment
of river status
of river basin
to reduce loading
Front cover Petri Heinimaa,
Back cover Satu Maaria Karjalainen
Graafinen Suunnittelu Gasworks Oy
Printed on environmentally friendly paper