Most of the regions covered by the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation are affected by problems related to transboundary waters, as 70% of them use waters from transboundary catchments. Transboundary groundwater resources deserve special attention, as they are more difficult to diagnose and manage than surface waters. Data exchange between neighboring countries on transboundary groundwater is slow and inconsistent.
The project focuses on the institutional sector, implementing the tasks of individual countries related to the recognition, protection and management of groundwater resources. It is a group of public institutions – geological institutes and services, water management bodies, geological sector enterprises, regional and local authorities – dealing with environmental protection. All these institutions need access to harmonized and integrated transboundary hydrogeological data. EU-WATERRES is the first initiative to unify the spatial hydrogeological data of the EU Member States and Ukraine with the possibility of accessing them via the Internet.
EU-WATERRES aims to increase the capacity of public institutions to manage transboundary groundwater resources by creating an integrated information and research platform, introducing new mapping and data analysis tools, and solutions for coordinated management and integrated groundwater protection.
The project focuses on the issue of sustainable use of water resources – one of the issues in the Program area: Environment and ecosystems.
The specific objectives of the project include:
- integration of existing software modules for hydrogeological mapping and analysis of observational data in one environment: EU-WATERRES GIS platform;
- supporting decision makers in an innovative participatory approach of scenario building and simulation to develop appropriate programs for protecting transboundary groundwater from pollution and depletion;
- to create basis for the coordination of groundwater monitoring procedures in transboundary catchments;
- optimization of use of data from monitoring of transboundary groundwater, by obtaining the results of analysis of availability and quality of water, monitoring of groundwater pollution;
- to apply these innovative software instruments to 3 case studies within the EU, 1 case study in Ukraine.
Brief description of the project
All activities carried out in the project are aimed at creating a plan for building the capacity of European and neighboring countries to control the quality and quantity of groundwater in cross-border areas. This plan will be targeted at an expected number of around 1,000 people from at least 40 different institutions interested in an efficient natural resource management system. About 300 people in the EU and about 100 people in Ukraine will receive direct training in how to use the platform.
All the results of the project will provide the main desired result – strengthening coordination, improving the efficiency of international cooperation in the management and control of transboundary groundwater, quality control as well as increasing public awareness of the issue of groundwater depletion and pollution.
The cross-border value of the project results from the combination of national research infrastructures, public institutions, observational data, scientific and practical knowledge into a single system for the integrated use of information on transboundary groundwater in the EU.
The project’s durability is expected to be unlimited as the conducted geological surveys will ensure the continuation of cross-border monitoring and updating of integrated hydrogeological databases as part of statutory tasks.
The results of the EU-WATERRES project concern not only the regions involved in the implementation of pilot studies in test areas, but can be adapted and implemented in other cross-border catchments, which is undoubtedly an added value. Moreover, it is the first initiative to create a universal tool supporting strategic decision making in the context of water management in border areas.
The ultimate and overarching goal of the project is to consolidate research networks for the integrated use of information on transboundary European groundwater resources. The functionality of the IT tools developed by EU-WATERRES ensures that they can be used to create analogous databases and maps for other cross-border areas.
The project’s scientific methodologies and recommendations for resource estimation, monitoring, status assessment, coordinated use and integrated protection of transboundary groundwater bodies will be based on the standards set out in the relevant EU directives, so that they can be implemented in other EU institutions that are not partners. in the implementation of the project.
Instruments developed under the project supporting decision-makers from the sector of managing transboundary groundwater resources will be valuable not only for selected
regions of Europe, but can be a model of good practice using a multi-level and open approach to the coordinated use of resources – both natural resources and data resources.
The project will develop solutions to facilitate collaboration between the EU-WATERRES partnership and other European initiatives in the water sector. It is planned to establish scientific cooperation with institutions involved in current or future projects, both local and regional.
The objectives of the EU-WATERRES project are also in line with the EU enlargement policy, in particular with regard to the Eastern Partnership countries, with particular emphasis on Ukraine. One of the assumptions of the EU-WATERRES project is to help Ukraine adapt to the objectives of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and to increase the activity of water management sector institutions, which will increase their competitiveness and facilitate the participation of Ukrainian scientists in joint research and development projects.