INNOMED - Innovative Options for Integrated Water Resources Management in the Mediterranean

Project Website


Coordinator:Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (EEAD-CSIC): Santiago Beguería

Projects  Partner and Institution:
The Cyprus Institute, CYI: Manfred Lange
Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement, CIRAD-UMR-CIRED: Patrice Dumas,
National Research Council, CNR-ISAFOM: Tommaso Caloiero,
Politecnico di Milano, POLIMI: Giovanni Ravazzani
Research Institute of Field Crops 'Selectia', RIFC: Marin Cebotari, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, NOVA.ID.FCT: Paulo Alexandre Diogo

Key words: WWTP, emerging contaminants, (bio)sensors, electrochemical and biological treatment processes, ecotoxicological assessment, sustainable water reuse and safety, LCA


The term Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) denotes "a coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare". INNOMED addressed water scarcity issues in the Mediterranean EU by following an IWRM approach, with a wide perception of water resources that includes both the green and blue water resources, and stressing the link between land use and water management. In particular, the project addressed the following challenges:

  • Current eco-hydrological models have a good ability to predict the gross hydrological effect of different land uses (e.g. conversion from forest to cropland), but subtler effects such as those of alternative management options (e.g. different forest thinning intensities, or deficit irrigation) are not as well represented (Challenge 1).
  • Practical difficulties in measuring green-water flows at the field scale limit model calibration and validation (Challenge 2).
  • Similarly, conversion from transpired water to biomass gain (water use efficiency) in crops and forest species requires specific water productivity models adapted to Mediterranean climate and species (Challenge 3).
  • Practical application of IWRM principles requires a reliable estimation of the rent of green- and blue-water in market goods (timber, cork, rainfed and irrigated crops). However, there is a lack of information on the implicit market value of water, and even the European Accounting System lacks this information due to the inexistence of water-use transactions linked to land-use in competitive markets (Challenge 4).
  • Full integration of physical modelling and economic valuation is a challenging and exciting research front, requiring the development of new conceptual linkage models (Challenge 5).
  • Finally, integrated approaches require a combined top-down and bottom-up approach, with a greater involvement of different types of stakeholders since and early stage (Challenge 6).

Collaborative research activities were performed on five pilot study areas (Monte Novo, Vigia and Esporao reservoirs in PT; Alto Aragón irrigation system in SP; Bonis catchment in IT; Peristerona River catchment in CY; and the Balti steppe in MD) and four field trial sites (Aula Dei experimental station in SP; pine reforestations in SP; Peristerona farms in CY; and Selectia experimental station in MD). A multidisciplinary approach was designed to tackle the challenges identified at each pilot study area and field trial site. This included the following activities:

  • Catchment-wide water balance analysis – State-of-the-art modules were implemented into current ecohydrological models to allow simulation of management options in forest and irrigated agriculture (ch1). This allowed new eco-hydrological simulations to: i) compute spatially-explicit water balances for a range of (current and future) climatic conditions; ii) determine the blue- and green-water footprint of (current and alternative) management options; and iii) quantify the effect of (current and alternative) land uses and managements in water quality.
  • Field monitoring – Field monitoring of key aspects of the land water cycle were carried out in the pilot study areas, utilizing and improving current monitoring facilities including cutting-edge technologies such as sensor networks (ch2). This allowed better understanding of current irrigation practices, and more precise determination of irrigation needs and scheduling, which resulted in net water savings.
  • Field-scale water conserving agriculture and forestry practices – Controlled deficit irrigation field trials were carried out on economically relevant model crops in order to determine water productivity curves (ch3). Field monitoring of green and blue water use and productivity was also conducted in selected commercial farms. Water saving under different management options was determined and the differences in water use efficiency and crop quality traits was determined. Isotopic tree-ring analysis was used to determine drought resilience and water use efficiency of forest stands before and after thinning (ch3). The positive effects of thinning in terms of water use efficiency and drought resilience were determined.
  • Economic water modelling – Estimation of private net benefits is required for assessing the viability of alternative management options, and also for estimating minimum compensations for those cases where there is a trade-off between the provision of water services and private benefits. An integrated physical modelling and economic valuation analysis has been conducted in order to provide a reliable estimation of the rent of green- and blue-water in agricultural market goods (ch4, ch5). The analysis showed that the underlying causes of land and water challenges in the EUM region are rooted in complex socio-cultural, economic and political contexts. For instance, farmers are largely concerned with productivity enhancement, but their decisions are also rooted on tradition and market opportunities.
  • Participatory approach – Stakeholder forums were conducted in the study sites since the early stages of the project to promote a dialogue between scientists, land users, water managers, and other relevant actors in the forestry and agriculture sectors. The participatory approach allowed local knowledge and perspectives to be not only acknowledged, but form the basis for further research (ch6).

Project structure: These objectives will be addressed through the following collaborative RDI activities:

  1. Catchment-wide water balance analysis – Eco-hydrological simulations will be carried out on five pilot study areas in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Moldova in order to: i) compute a spatially-explicit water balance for a range of (current and future) climatic conditions (challenge 1); ii) determine the blue- and green-water footprint of (current and alternative) land uses and managements (challenge 1); iii) quantify the effect of (current and alternative) land uses and managements in selected water quality parameters (challenge 1). Monitoring schemes and indicators – Field monitoring of key aspects of the land water cycle will be carried out in the pilot study areas, utilizing and improving current monitoring facilities including cutting-edge technologies such as eddy covariance, or sensor networks. The newly acquired data will allow improving parameterization of challenging modelling issues (challenge 2).
  2. Field-scale water conserving agriculture and forestry practices – Controlled deficit irrigation field trials on economically relevant model crops will be carried out in order to calibrate water productivity curves in the eco-hydrological models (challenge 3). Field monitoring of green and blue water use and productivity will also be conducted in selected, commercial farms. Isotopic tree-ring analysis will be used to determine water productivity curves of forests before and after thinning (challenge 3). These assessments will result on useful information regarding the feasibility of water conserving practices, but it will also improve model calibration (challenge 2).
  3. Economic modelling – Catchment-wide economic valuation of green- and blue-water resources will allow assessing the feasibility of proposed management options, and payment-for-ecosystem services schemes (PES) will be simulated to assess their suitability to promote such changes (challenges 4-5).
  4. Stakeholder involvement in the selected areas (challenge 6) will allow: i) identifying current and innovative land management options (with special attention to controlled deficit irrigation and forest thinning) and their framework conditions (legal, institutional, financial, etc.); ii) gathering biophysical and socio-economic data needed for analysis; iii) assessing how information from modelling is presented to end users; and iv) proposing new strategies for IWRM.

Implementation: INNOMED activities are organized within the following six work packages (WP):
WP1. Project management (administrative, quality, technical and scientific).
WP2. Stakeholder forum and communication. Promote a dialogue between scientists, water managers, and end-users in the forestry and agriculture sectors, contributing to achieve Challenge 6. In addition to the groups of stakeholders interested in INNOMED (see letters of commitment on section 5), other relevant private and public stakeholders will be invited from an early stage of the project.
WP3. Multidisciplinary knowledge-base assessment. Collect and make available current knowledge and data relevant to the case studies regarding the natural science, socio-economic data, institutional aspects, and policy and management options. This task will be undertaken early in the project timeline, although it will also take care of archiving and data sharing of new data generated during the entire project.
WP4. Bridging knowledge gaps. Deal with data gaps identified within WP2 and will generate new data needed by the project, including hydrological monitoring on forest and agricultural farms, experimental field trials, and forest thinning isotopic analysis, in close cooperation with stakeholders (farmers and forest managers). These data will be used for calibrating critical model parameters and processes in WP4.
WP5. Catchment-wide eco-hydrological and economic modelling. Develop a conceptual framework and numeric tools for quantifying, in physical and economic terms, the outcomes of different land management options in terms of improved green and blue water estimates.
WP6. Strategies for IWRM. Based on the outputs of WP5 and WP4, science-based IWRM strategies and policy recommendations will be developed for the five pilot study cases.

D1.1. Minutes from annual project meetings
D1.2. Annual Progress Reports
D2.1. Synthesis report of stakeholder forums held in each study site
D2.2. Project’s newsletters
D3.1. Report on project’s data needs, standards and dissemination policy
D3.2. Project’s database (synthesis report)
D4.1. Synthesis report on water use monitoring
D4.2. Synthesis report on irrigation field trials
D4.3. Synthesis report on forest water use
D5.1. Synthesis report on (calibrated and validated) eco-hydrological modelling
D5.2. Synthesis report on (calibrated and validated) socio-economic modelling
D6.1. Synthesis report on scenario modelling in all study sites
D6.2. Synthesis report on strategies for IWRM

References coordinator and  leaders of  each WP:
WP1: Santiago Beguería;

Main outputs:

  • Feki, M., Ravazzani, G., Ceppi, A., Milleo, G., & Mancini, M. (2018). Impact of infiltration process modeling on soil water content simulations for irrigation management. Water, 10(7), 850.
  • Ravazzani, G.; Caloiero, T.; Feki, M.; Pellicone, G. Impact of Infiltration Process Modeling on Runoff Simulations: The Bonis River Basin. Proceedings 2018, 2(11), 638.
  • Corbari, G. Ravazzani, M. Galvagno, E. Cremonese and M. Mancini, Assessing Crop Coefficients for Natural Vegetated Areas Using Satellite Data and Eddy Covariance Stations, Sensors 2017, 17(11), 2664.
  • Siakou, M., Bruggeman, A., Zoumides, C. & Eliades, M. (2018). Monitoring and improving irrigation efficiency in an organic olive farm in Cyprus. Acta Horticulturae 1253: 373-380.

More results on the project: Data and resources

Contact Point for  Communication/Dissemination activities: CYI

Contact Point for Open Data/Open Access activities: NOVA.ID.FCT

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published on 2017/03/28 08:00:00 GMT+1 last modified 2022-05-10T14:47:15+01:00