The protection and preservation of the aquatic habitats of Lesser Prespa Lake and Great Prespa Lake require, among other things, the timely assessment of the possible degradation of their water quality and the detection of threats related to it. A preliminary study, the ‘Quick assessment of water and sediment quality in the Prespa Lakes’, which was conducted in 2012 in the Greek part of Prespa, confirmed that one of the major problems that the lakes are facing is the degradation of their water quality, mainly due to excessive nutrient inflow. Increased concentrations of nutrients, a phenomenon also known as eutrophication, can significantly affect the functions of the Prespa ecosystem, causing negative effects, both on biodiversity and human activities.
Taking into account the problem of eutrophication, the need for in-depth research in order to better understand the situation and the obligations to achieve a “good water quality status” provided by the Water Framework Directive (2000/60), the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) started a long-term co-operation programme with the Radboud University of Nijmegen, the Research B-Ware Center and Wageningen University and Research Center of the Netherlands, in order to adequately investigate the aspects concerning the water quality problems of the two lakes in the Greek part, contributing to an effective management system.
The aim of the project was to study the bio-geo-chemical processes that would allow us to assess the level and extent of water quality degradation resulting from nutrient pollution. The project consisted of two phases: intensive water quality monitoring and an experimental phase. The monitoring phase included the spatio-temporal recording of the fundamental water quality indicators, at designated sampling points throughout the area of Lesser and Great Prespa Lakes and their catchment basin. The actions were focused on investigating the processes that lead to increased nutrient concentrations and identifying point and diffuse pollution sources. These data contributed to the understanding of the causes that lead to the phenomenon of eutrophication and to the evaluation of its effects.
The second phase included the experimental assessment of the total nutrient loads flowing into the lake system, as well as experimental applications related to innovative methods of dealing with nutrient pollution. In the framework of this co-operation programme, a related doctoral thesis on the ‘Eutrophication assessment of Prespa Lakes using biochemical indicators; was prepared, with the support of the SPP, while at the same time an advisory scientific committee was established with experts from the B-Ware Research Centre, the Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Radboud University, the research institute Tour du Valat and the SPP.
Maliaka, V., Faassen, E.J., Smolders, A.J., Lürling, M. “The Impact of Warming and Nutrients on Algae Production and Microcystins in Seston from the Iconic Lake Lesser Prespa, Greece”. Toxins 2018, 10, 144.