The Water Framework Directive (WFD) of the European Union requires the quality of all European water bodies to be examined, and aims to achieve good status by 2015. This study was initiated to assess whether a potential reference lake for identifying lake-type specific reference conditions meets the WFD requirements, of being minimally impacted by human activity during the last centuries. The sediments of Lake Kooraste K verj rv were analysed for diatom assemblages and sediment composition; past changes in the lake-water pH and total phosphorus were reconstructed, using quantitative models on sedimentary diatoms. The chronology of sediments was established, using spheroidal fly-ash particles stratigraphy. Palaeolimnological investigations, supported by information from historical maps, revealed that man-made changes around the lake have severely influenced its ecological conditions. The lake, which had been oligotrophic with soft and clear water before the mid-17th century, has been trans-formed into a hard-water lake by modifications to the inflow and outflow. The lake water quality has also been altered by the infiltration of nutrients from a nearby hypertrophic lake that was used for flax retting since the 19th century. Although the ecological status of the lake has remained good despite all these changes, it is still questionable whether to nominate it as a reference lake for stratified hard-water lake types.