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Challenges
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Challenges

As part of the participatory process, the BeWater project team organised stakeholder workshops in each basin, where participants took part in a guided discussion answering two key questions.

        

Stakeholders unable to participate in the workshops were interviewed with the same questions. With the help of these questions, the BeWater project team elicited the most pressing issues regarding the impacts of global change and the water management to be addressed in each river basin.

 

Pedieos, Cyprus

Stakeholders of the Pedieos river basin identified three challenges for the medium-long term that need to be addressed by adequate management of the river basin to increase its resilience to the impacts of global change.

 

Quantitative and qualitative status of groundwater

A major challenge identified in the Pedieos River Basin is groundwater quantity and quality. The high temperatures and the increased variability of precipitation leads to an increased irrigation demand that will exacerbate the already high pressures on groundwater resources. A reduction in groundwater quantities will affect irrigated crop production and livestock farms, as well as rural communities that pump groundwater for domestic supply. Over-pumping of groundwater lowers the water table and alters how water moves between the aquifers and the stream.

Pollution from agriculture could affect groundwater quality, especially in the rural midstream area of river basin. Croplands are a primary source of contamination to groundwater due to the applications of agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and manure. Agricultural chemicals from fertilizers, pesticides and manure could contaminate groundwater. Excess irrigation water applications may also leach agricultural chemicals into groundwater.

Quantitative and qualitative status of surface water

Adverse climatic conditions could result in diminished surface water supplies. These changes affect the services and the functions of the Tamassos dam water body. The Tamassos dam provides water supply for the nearby rural communities, but has also created a new aquatic ecosystem and recreational area. Surface water flows downstream from the dam are controlled by the release of water from the dam for downstream groundwater recharge. A few small recharge checkdams and diversion structures have been constructed in the midstream area to increase groundwater recharge or divert surface water for irrigation. The reduction in surface water quantities will affect the riparian vegetation and biodiversity habitats of the streams as well as irrigated farming.

Uncontrolled urban development has led to a significant degradation of riverbed and riparian area. Solid and liquid waste dumping has detrimental effects on the quality of the surface water. Urban sprawl is also a significant factor regarding soil sealing in suburban areas of Pedieos River Basin. Soil sealing contributes negatively to water quality as the rainwater is polluted by concentrations of heavy metals in sealed areas, which when washed into the river degrade its water quality.

Flooding

The urban area along the Pedieos River has been identified as an area of potentially significant flood risk. Although the Pedieos River in its downstream part is dry most of the year, heavy rainfall events may lead to significant floods. Natural vegetation across the riverbed impedes the flow of the water, while illegal dumping of garbage is often blocking waterways and causes localised floods and spill overs of water in the roads.

The forests in the upstream area of the basin help to regulate relatively minor floods although they are not able to prevent major floods. Crop fields in good state have also a positive contribution to flood prevention in the midstream parts of the river basin. The Tamassos dam provides significant flood protection to the midstream and downstream areas of the river basin. The dam modifies the volume of water flowing downstream and alters the natural rates at which rivers rise and fall during extreme runoff events.

The high urban sprawl intensifies soil sealing which increases the risk of flooding. The disturbed land loses its ability to hold soil in place that increases the rate and the volume of runoff. Finally, flooding is partly caused by problems in the rainwater drainage systems in the urban area. Sustainable urban drainage systems are necessary to capture and store surface water run-off and control its release into Pedieos River.

 

Detailed description and additional details on the challenges for water management in the Pedieos river basin can be found in its River Basin Adaptation Plan.

 

Rmel, Tunisia

Stakeholders of the Rmel river basin identified six challenges for the medium-long term that need to be addressed by adequate management of the river basin to increase its resilience to the impacts of global change.

 

Water quantity

In the study area, the rainfall regime is characterized by irregularity and high intensity that cause soil degradation. Also, human activities far from best practices (overgrazing, unsustainable agricultural practices, etc.), accelerate water erosion processes. The limited use of water and soil conservation techniques all over the catchment is causing reduction of the dam storage capacity. Certain areas remain disserving drinking water. Losses in the drinking water supply network and low flows affect the quantity of water especially during peak hours. Responding to the needs of the local population by considering sound water management is a priority in the basin.

Water quality

The Rmel river basin includes 33 enterprises that release their waste liquids (waste of olive presses, lime) in the Rmel river. These waste liquids have a high influence on the water quality in the basin. Waste water treatment and control of contamination of the river is necessary to preserve the water quality in the basin.

Agriculture

The current situation of the irrigated sector is characterized by several levels of exploitation and an overall modest increase resulting from various constraints, mainly related social and land pressures. Agriculture sector can face water shortage during summer time. In fact, the mobilised water at the Rmel dam is limited and can’t supply all downstream irrigated perimeters. The majorities of farmers are very aged and are trapped in ancient techniques and old agricultural customs; moreover, they are struggling with land conflicts. Good management of irrigated perimeters, support of farmers and improving operational and management requirements constitute a challenge to improve agriculture that represents the main occupation of the basin.

 

Forestry and biodiversity management

The forest is both a valuable protective mantle for soil and an incomparable set of sites and landscapes but it is particularly threatened. The over-exploitation of the forest and the intensive agro-pastoral practices have led to severe degradation of forest resources. Consequently, it becomes crucial to highlight the economic, social, and ecological importance of forests. Future strategies need to develop and ensure the protection of this precious and fragile heritage.

 

Awareness of civil society

The lack of awareness of civil society about the importance of natural resources is due to the lack of coordination between the authorities and civil society, as well as the fact that local people were kept out of decision making processes (not only in the basin, but in the whole region). Therefore, awareness, training and integration of civil society in studies and the coordination between society and science are required.

 

Human resource and employment

The analysis of socio-economic issues has identified constraints that concern the future beneficiaries: the main constraints mentioned by young people are, namely, guidance difficulty towards vocational training, lack of generating income projects, unemployment, migration, and lack of specialized manpower. A better exploitation of existing human resources in the basin and the creation of jobs in the agricultural sector are a relevant challenge for the development of the area.

 

Detailed description and additional details on the challenges for water management in the Rmel river basin can be found in its River Basin Adaptation Plan.

  

Tordera, Spain

Stakeholders of the Tordera river basin identified four challenges for the medium-long term that need to be addressed by adequate management of the river basin to increase its resilience to the impacts of global change.

 

Water quantity

The lack of an adequate environmental flow regime has been identified as the most important factor for the bad ecological status of the water bodies in the basin. In the same line, stakeholders considered anthropogenic pressure on the basin’s water as the main challenge in the basin. Tordera’s groundwater bodies are currently being overexploited  causing salt intrusion in the coastal area.

Health of forests and water ecosystems

Tordera’s river basin society emphasized the need to integrate forest management practices as a strategic element of water management in the river basin. Unattended forests are currently undergoing excessive biomass growth and high tree mortality, making them more vulnerable to wildfires and affecting the quality of the forest ecosystems. As most forests are private, public policies for adaptation need to be orientated to stimulate good practices by landowners rather than to intervene directly.

Water quality

Installation of wastewater treatment plants is considered a challenge in the basin. Many small towns and dwellings, especially in the upper part of the river, are not provided with treatment facilities and discharge their wastewater directly into the river. Although specific depuration development plans are in place, both for industrial and urban users, the lack of a solid funding scheme and sound coordination between public administrations are major obstacles for increasing the quality of river waters.

 

Integrated Water Management

Tordera society experiences insufficient democratic quality in water governance, requiring more transparency of information and specific deliberative spaces allowing to face the basin’s challenges, as well as a revision of current legislation regulating water uses.

 

Detailed description and additional details on the challenges for water management in the Tordera river basin can be found in its River Basin Adaptation Plan.

 

 

Vipava, Slovenia

Stakeholders of the Vipava river basin identified three challenges for the medium-long term that need to be addressed by adequate management of the river basin to increase its resilience to the impacts of global change.

 

Water availability during droughts in growing season

The main challenge indicated by stakeholders is water availability during drought occurrences, especially in growing season. In the Vipava river basin meteorological, agrometeorological and hydrological droughts are present, each having a specific impact on the environment. The adverse climate conditions (higher temperatures and reduction of precipitation in warmer part of the year) will aggravate risk of water shortage in future even more.

Flood risk reduction

Floods were always present in the Vipava river basin and represent a bigger problem in the lower part of the river basin. Due to impacts of climate change, changes of the river regime due to regulations of the watercourses in 1980s and building of settlements too close to the watercourses (deprivation of riparian area) severe floods are occurring more frequently and at a larger scale. Trapped and rigidly regulated watercourses (concrete banks) in the upper valley are lacking the needed space (floodplains) and the ability to reduce the flow velocity, hence water rapidly drains downstream causing severe floods in the lower valley.

Appropriate water quality

The ecological status of the Vipava River is moderate due to high levels of nutrients and presence of specific pollutants (insufficient municipal wastewater treatment and agriculture).

During low flows, excessive water abstraction from the Vipava River for irrigation in the upper part of the basin can occur. This can cause problems with maintaining ecologically acceptable flows and in this context achieving a good ecological status becomes an issue during droughts.

 

Detailed description and additional details on the challenges for water management in the Vipava river basin can be found in its River Basin Adaptation Plan.