The European Water Framework (WFD) establishes a framework for the protection and the monitoring condition of all natural superficial waters of the member States. The Italian Legislative Decree n. 156/2006 implements the WFD establishing a monitoring system which foresees a detailed detection of several physical, chemical and microbiological parameters in order to assess the qualitative status of the water body. This study reports the freshwater quality in the Reno river basin (North Italy) from 2003 to 2011. The Reno superficial water was classified as “good” in the mountain stations and at the closed basin while in all the other stations of the Po plain the quality was from “mediocre” to “poor”. The decrease of water quality was due to the flowing of artificial canals that collect discharges the wastewater of sewage treatment plants, drainage and run-off from the urban, industrial and agricultural lands. In spring-summer 2011, characterized by severe drought, a study on the distribution of pollutants and nutrients in water of the Renoriver and its tributaries highlight the impact of highway (Via Emilia) that closes the mountain basin of water courses. Along this street cities and industrial and craft have developed, increasing discharges of pollutants and nutrients in rivers. An increase of metals and nutrients was found from upstream to downstream, furthermore the concentration of the microbiological faecal indicators were two to three times higher than those determined in the water upstream of urban/industrial settlements. The thresholds of Italian Law for Hg and Pb were exceeding in all most rivers. The sediments analysis was also performed because they can be considered a sink and/or source for pollutants. In many monitoring sites the metals concentrations was higher than the thresholds of Italia Low (data not shown), but the availability of these metals was tested with mixtures of different strength extracting (EDTA, DTPA and water). The coefficient of partition solid/water (Kd) was calculated to evaluate the metals affinity to be in the aqueous phase and it increase as following Cr > Mn > Ni > Pb > Zn > Cu > Cd.
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