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New unit for research on the status of lakes

In light of the lack of knowledge on the status of lakes, whether natural or artificial, Onema and Cemagref have joined forces to create a specialised research unit in Aix-en-Provence. The goal is to produce the knowledge required to restore the good status of lakes in compliance with the WFD.

There are 439 lakes in France with a surface area larger than 50 hectares, of which 84% are artificial or significantly altered. A majority are found in the Loire-Bretagne, Adour-Garonne and Rhône-Méditerranée regions. Current, available data show that 16% of lakes have good ecological status and 30% have good chemical status. However, because of insufficient data, the ecological status could not be determined for 45% of the lakes and the chemical status could not be determined for 67%.

This lack of data for lakes is much greater than that noted for rivers which have much longer data series. The new unit, located at Cemagref, groups 12 scientists from Cemagref and Onema specialised in the hydroecology of lakes. They will attempt to better understand lake ecology and to develop the tools required for better management. Four main goals have been set for the unit which can count on an annual budget of 740 thousand euros, of which 60% are provided by Onema:

- greater knowledge by setting up protocols and indicators to qualify the status of lakes, including the biological status (fish, macroinvertebrates, macrophytes and phytoplankton), hydromorphological status (quality of banks, hydrology, variations in water levels) and chemical status, for example by defining acceptable concentration limits for various macropollutants;

- the creation, for water managers, of methods and tools to diagnose the impact of various pressures on lakes, as well as tools designed to simulate management scenarios and assist in decision making;

- provide stakeholders in the field with technical support for complex management operations taking into account the necessary balance between chemical, biological and hydromorphological factors;

- dissemination and use of the operational knowledge and tools, as well as training for managers.



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