International monitoring programme The water quality monitoring in the Elbe River basin began at the beginning of the 1990s and was based on the monitoring programmes declared at the international level. The establishment of the ICPER in 1990 provided a stepping stone to a complex and harmonised approach concerning monitoring the water quality development in the Elbe River and its tributaries. To implement the common monitoring programme, the ICPER water quality monitoring network was established. The network consists of 17 monitoring profiles (5 of them in the Czech Republic and 12 in Germany). The existing facilities were modernised and new ones were built. This was complemented by upgrading the laboratory instruments park and by developing the data processing system.
The first ICPER International Monitoring Programme was prepared for 1992 and it brings forward 63 indicators. Since then, the ICPER has annually been setting forth more indicators to be monitored at the international level. Over 100 physical, chemical, and biological indicators were selected for 2006. The basic indicators, such as water temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and flow rates are continually monitored at the stations. To identify more indicators, the monitoring stations automatically take water samples that are analysed in laboratories. Reviews of the annual discharges of the ICPER priority substances are carried out at three monitoring profiles, the profiles of: Hřensko/Schmilka at the Czech-German state border, Schnackenburg at the historic border between former East and West Germany, and Seemannshöft downstream Hamburg. The International Monitoring Programme for 2007 was modified in accordance with the Water Framework Directive’s requirements. It reflects the Directive’s requirements for surveillance monitoring in the Elbe River basin including the mouth sections of all Elbe tributaries whose basins are larger than 5 000 km² (Until 2006, there were only monitoring profiles on three tributaries – the Vltava, the Saale, and the Mulde rivers).
The monitoring programme, after 2007 called the International Programme for the Elbe River Monitoring, lists the total number of 19 monitoring profiles (7 in the Czech Republic, 12 in Germany). 9 monitoring profiles (4 in the Czech Republic, 5 in Germany) are situated on the Elbe River, 10 profiles are located on the tributaries. The following profiles were assigned for the monitoring programme: the mouth of the Vltava, its tributary the Berounka, and the mouth of the Ohře in the Czech Republic and, in Germany, the mouth of the Black Elster, the Mulde, the Saale, its tributaries the Unstrut and the White Elster, the mouth of the Havel and its tributary the Spree. The most important prerequisite for a unified interpretation of the values measured is their comparability. This comparability has been achieved at the international level in the ICPER framework and the tool being used is called Measures to Obtain Quality Analytic Results; these include the selection and the application of identical or comparable monitoring methods, inter-laboratory comparisons, and joint evaluation. The joint interpretation of the International Programme for Monitoring results is done via the Reports on the Elbe River Water Quality.