The Water Framework Directive (WFD) provides a template for sustainable water management across Europe. The WFD requires the development of procedures to ensure the appropriate mitigation of anthropogenic impacts on river ecosystems resulting from water abstraction and impoundments. It is widely acknowledged that alterations to the flow regime impacts on riverine ecosystems. As a result hydromorphology, which includes the hydrological regime, is embedded within the WFD as a supporting element to achieve Good Ecological Status (GES). Environmental flow releases from impoundments, such as reservoir dams, will need to be implemented to mitigate impacts caused by their construction and operation. This paper outlines the process involved in the analysis of available scientific information and the development of guidance criteria for the setting of environmental flow release regimes for UK rivers. The paper describes two methods for implementation of the WFD for rivers subject to impoundments developed by round table expert knowledge and discussions, supported by available data. First, a method for preliminary assessment of a water body to determine if it is likely to fail to achieve Good Ecological Status because of changes to the flow regime (indexed by simple flow regime statistics) in systems where appropriate biological assessment methods are limited or currently unavailable. Second, a method for defining an environmental flow regime release based on the requirements of riverine ecological communities and indicator organisms for basic elements (building blocks) of the natural flow regime
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