The Joint Danube Survey 3 (JDS3) was the world’s biggest river research expedition undertaken in 2013. Its main goal was to produce highly comparable and reliable information on water quality and pollution for the entire Danube River and many of its tributaries, and to raise awareness about the importance of the river and sustainable water management.
The survey is one of the results that have come out of the Danube River Protection Convention (1994) and the obligations of the 2000 EU water Framework Directive, which requires all EU waters to achieve ‘good chemical and ecological status’. To meet these challenges, and given the geographical conditions, a joint programme between the countries responsible for the quality of the river was put in place. To improve the quality of the river the First Danube River Basin Management Plan, published in 2009, identified measures to be implemented by 2015.
The first two survey campaigns, JDS1 and JDS2, were essential to identify the main sources of problems and to select the right measures to solve them. As some measures were already put in place, JSD3 served to monitor their effectiveness. The results will feed directly into the next Danube River Basin Management Plan and the Joint Programme of Measures to be adopted at the end of 2015.
The JSD3 was coordinated by the ICPDR, and used three boats which sailed along the river through ten countries. From a scientific perspective the initiative is remarkable as it covered water, sediments and biological aspects of the river. In addition, the survey used conventional monitoring techniques but also cutting edge methodologies, contributing to the generation of scientific knowledge.
The entire region has benefitted from the creation of a strong network of scientists, private and public laboratories universities and research institutions. Above all, the JDS3 is a model for cooperation: the JSD3 took place during the International Year of Water Cooperation and thus showed that scientists can collaborate in order to study, analyse and propose practical solutions to water pollution problems created by different stakeholders in a coordinated manner.