Why do we sample?

We carry out coastal water sampling as part of the Department’s monitoring and surveillance programme. Water sampling is a requirement and obligation under the EU’s Water Framework Directive. The Water Framework Directive was established in order to set targets and objectives for all EU Member States to achieve good status throughout all its water bodies. In order to comply with these requirements, it is essential to sample our waters in order to monitor their quality so we can ensure that we are not exceeding the Environmental Quality Standards as stipulated in the Directive.


How often do we sample?

Sampling is carried out on a monthly basis. Samples are taken from 6 specific sites located around Gibraltar’s coastline. Samples are collected from each site which are later sent to the UK for laboratory analysis. Samples are analysed for nutrients, phytoplankton (microalgae) priority substances, specific pollutants, heavy metals and other toxins. In addition, we also take in-situ physio-chemical readings which consist of parameters such as pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, clarity etc.

Monthly sampling consists of taking water samples which are later analysed only for nutrients, chlorophyll and total suspended solids. A more comprehensive set of sampling is carried out once every quarter.  In addition to nutrients, samples taken each quarter are analysed for heavy metals, priority substances, specific pollutants and other toxins. The substances which are analysed are stipulated under the Directive.


What do the results show?

There are several designated water bodies in Gibraltar. These include the coastal water body which encompasses the majority of Gibraltar’s coastline, Heavily Modified Water Bodies which, as the name suggests, includes areas such as the harbour and marina bay area which have been largely modified from its natural and original state for a specific purpose which in this case includes navigation and recreation. In addition, in Gibraltar we also have two groundwater bodies which are sampled and monitored separately. Based on our sampling and monitoring, each of Gibraltar’s water bodies are characterised on a five year basis in order to determine whether they are achieving good status both ecologically and chemically. The latest characterisation study, which was conducted in 2015, that all our water bodies in Gibraltar are achieving good status both ecologically and chemically.