The Water Framework Directive is a major regulatory reform of water resources management within the European Union. Integrated catchment management plans must be prepared for all river basins, in order to achieve 'good ecological status' in all EU waters. Ecological status is a broader measure of water quality than the chemical and biological measures that were previously dominant. The Directive calls for a consideration of the economic costs and benefits of improvements to ecological status. In this paper, we use the choice experiment method to estimate the value of improvements in three components of ecological status. Given the high resource cost of valuation studies, benefits transfer methods will be needed in implementing the Directive. We thus also test the ability of choice experiments for benefits transfer across two very similar rivers in the UK.