The metal bioavailability concept is implemented in the Water Framework Directive (WFD) compliance assessment. The bioavailability assessment is usually performed by the application of user-friendly Biotic Ligand Models (BLMs), which require dissolved metal concentrations to be used with the “matching” data of the supporting physicochemical parameters of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), pH and Cadissolved
. Many national surface water monitoring networks do not have sufficient matching data records, especially for DOC. In this study, different approaches for dealing with the missing DOC data are presented: substitution using historical data; the appropriate percentile of DOC concentrations; and combinations of the two. The applicability of the three following proposed substitution approaches is verified by comparison with the available matching data: (i) calculations from available TOC data; (ii) the 25th percentile of the joint Bulgarian monitoring network DOC data (measured and calculated by TOC); and (iii) the 25th percentile of the calculated DOC from the matching TOC data for the investigated surface water body (SWB). The application of user-friendly BLMs (BIO-MET, M-BAT and PNEC Pro) to 13 surface water bodies (3 reservoirs and 10 rivers) in the Bulgarian surface waters monitoring network outlines that the suitability of the substitution approaches decreases in order: DOC calculated by TOC > the use of the 25th percentile of the data for respective SWB > the use of the 25th percentile of the Bulgarian monitoring network data. Additionally, BIO-MET is the most appropriate tool for the bioavailability assessment of Cu, Zn and Pb in Bulgarian surface water bodies.
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