Field: Pollutant control, Sustainable water cycle
Global Technical function: Collecting, Managing
Technical Function Unit: Data analysing, Identifying, Strategic planning


The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) is a legal framework with the aim of improving water quality in Europe. The implementation process of the WFD is complex and requires environmental data collection, emission source identification, assessment of sources and management measures.

In order to meet the requirements of the WFD and a sustainable water cycle achievement, measures related to the pollutant control of priority substances (PSs) are needed. Within the project Source Control of Priority Substances in Europe – SOCOPSE, a decision support system (DSS) was developed in order to assist decision makers in managing PSs and to assist in the strategic planning process. The aim of the DSS is to assist water authorities identifying current and future environmental problems related to water management, to analyse the effectiveness of various measures, and to suggest control measures. The intention is primarily to support the process of making plans and decisions to control PSs at European, national or river basin levels. The plans are a part of the river basin management plans (RBMPs). The DSS is also suitable for other stakeholders to assess the effectiveness of various management options.

The DSS is on the form of a handbook, where a step-by-step methodology is applied to select the best control options. Each step includes various sub-steps, feedback loops and sub-decisions. The output consists of control options, which can be process-oriented options, end-of-pipe techniques, product substitution or other options at community level. Descriptions of tools for evaluation and selection of measures to decrease the release and concentration of PSs into the river basin, and to remove PSs from the surface waters, are included in the DSS. The system provides a format where information, which is required to prepare and to make decisions, can be gathered, stored, updated and evaluated. It therefore serves as a structure to collect the inputs and as a structure to produce output in the form of information needed for decisions.

Making use of the DSS requires information regarding the numerous PSs. Collecting and data analysing information coming from eleven different PSs were included in the project. Further, the project included five case studies where the DSS was applied: Vantaa (Finland), Meuse (Netherlands), Danube (Slovakia), Ter-Llobregat (Spain), and Klodnica (Poland). Although it was developed for PSs, the DSS can be applied to any substance which is submitted to legal restriction thresholds. The system also fits the framework suggested by the EC to implement the WFD to set up RBMPs.

The project was supported by the European Commission Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), a grant funding programme,, and was completed in 2009. Partners from the following nine countries participated in the project: Sweden (coordinator), Netherlands, France, Spain, Norway, Poland, Finland, Slovakia, and United Kingdom.

The DSS is available on-line. The DSS has been applied in case studies and can be directly used by decision makers. The Technology Readiness Level is therefore 8 on the TRL scale.