This study gives a review on the process of identification of significant pressures and impacts, which is an important part of river basin planning and in particular for implementing the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC). The questions: what is a “significant pressure” in terms of the WFD? which sources and driving forces have to be regarded? which data can be used? which pressure on a water body is significant? and which implications and requirements result from the identification process? - should be considered. The European Commission requires reporting from all Member States about the status of the water bodies within a river basin district and about the risk of failing the environmental objectives by the end of 2004. Therefore, a number of prevailing projects across Europe aim to develop a guideline on a common understanding of the most effective approach towards the identification of significant anthropogenic pressures, and the analysis of potential impacts including the identification of appropriate tools and models. In such a guideline suitable and intelligent criteria have to be developed in order to enable a uniform assessment of the anthropogenic pressures within a river basin district.

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