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190 Hydromorphological Quality – A Policy Template for Channel Design in River Restoration

Part 16. Land Use and Water Management

  1. Andrew R G Large1,
  2. Malcolm D Newson2

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa198

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Large, A. R. G. and Newson, M. D. 2006. Hydromorphological Quality – A Policy Template for Channel Design in River Restoration. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 16:190.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Newcastle, Centre for Land Use and Water Resources Research, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

  2. 2

    University of Newcastle, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


The European Union's Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the most substantial piece of European water legislation to date and will have a profound effect on how water is managed in Europe over the next 25 years. The term “hydromorphological” was introduced by the WFD to describe the quality of water bodies in addition to physicochemical and ecological elements, and has rapidly become a prominent descriptor. Reference conditions are described as “having no or only very minor alterations” resulting from human activity yet, at the same time, there is considerable confusion as to how far back we have to go to approximate such conditions. A core uncertainty or ambiguity concerns the possible differences between structural definitions of a reference condition and those that relate to processes, or “functionality”. Whilst ecohydrology and hydroecology are clearly critical in the provision of a science foundation for the WFD, the introduction of hydromorphological quality as a measure of the condition of fresh waters requires new (or, at least, innovative) thinking.

A momentous challenge for those involved with the concept and realization of “good ecological quality” is to assess it, monitor it, and restore it within a basin-wide strategy, considering also the element of land use and management. The potential role of fluvial geomorphology in understanding, assessing, monitoring, and restoring hydromorphological quality in river systems is stressed.


  • hydromorphology;
  • water framework directive;
  • river restoration