Vanessa Ramos

Vanessa Ramos

Vanessa Ramos, Portugal

Environmental engineer and, currently, a PhD researcher in the Hydraulics, Water Resources and Environment Division of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP). Her PhD, has been developed in close collaboration with the main entity responsible to manage dams’ operations (EDP Produção), having as main goal the establishment of relationships between hydrology and ecology (i.e. biological indicators officially used within the Water Framework Directive implementation). After her Master Degree at FEUP, she has been working on in some national and international research projects. More specifically, research projects related with the effects of extreme events and climate change in water resources management and freshwater ecosystems, as well as, ecological flows assessments. Her work, developed within one of the research projects, give her an award from the College of Engineers, the best national internship on the College of Environment.

Presentation Title: The challenge of environmental flows in Portugal, under the Water Framework Directive

Worldwide, the provision of environmental flows has been recognized as a key measure for restoring and managing river ecosystems.

Even though the term environmental flow is not explicitly used in the Water Framework Directive (WFD) – the most substantial and ambitious piece of European environmental legislation to date – its importance to meet WFD goals has been gaining attention and increasing throughout the time. In fact, the European Union highlights that Member States should define environmental flows to achieve WFD environmental objectives (i.e. good water status/potential of all water bodies), and include those in the River Basin Management Plans, RBMPs (i.e. the main instruments for WFD implementation). In Portugal, the implementation of these RBMPs is the responsibility of the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), the National Water Authority, which is also responsible for the concession of water rights for the use of river flow to hydroelectric production. The concession contracts assigned for that include constraints to power plants operation, namely the need to define and implement environmental flows, as well as the establishment of a monitoring program to evaluate the effectiveness of those under the WFD goals.

The main goal of this work is to provide a portrait of the environmental flows situation in Portugal in terms of their: 1) official definition (approaches and methods used), 2) implementation (i.e. in which locations are the environmental flows being implemented), 3) monitoring (in terms of the design and implementation of monitoring programs), 4) effectiveness (i.e. importance to achieve WFD objectives). For each topic, a description and discussion of the situation in the country will be provided, as well as the main challenges and constraints found.