RIA – Topic 1.1.1: Sustainable groundwater management in water-stressed Mediterranean areas
Groundwater is recognized as a critical source of water in the Mediterranean. However, underground water bodies are seriously threatened by overexploitation and, in coastal areas, salinization due to seawater intrusion. Pollution is an additional long-term threat, as sub-surface and surface water, soilwater and agricultural soil pollution often takes years before it is detected in groundwater. Pressure on Mediterranean groundwater resources is currently jeopardizing both farming activities and ecosystem functioning, including the associated wetlands.
Close links of this topic with the priorities, operational objectives and outcome indicators indicated in PRIMA SRIA are presented in Annex 1 to the Annual Work Plan 2019.
In order to ensure sustainable use and protection of Mediterranean groundwater aquifers in the frame of climate change, water over-abstraction in the region, all water balance components and water quality and quantity risks related to the intensive agricultural activities need to be comprehensively assessed and analysed. This includes: i) water demands and their management; ii) the geo-physical aspects of water recharge and depletion; iii) non-conventional water recharge options and their quality aspects; and iv) the processes leading to seawater intrusion and groundwater pollution. Activities should be devoted to the development and validation of effective water management – in particular groundwater balances and optimised allocation systems for agricultural purposes, monitoring (on site and distant monitoring) and modelling tools to assess and forecast quantitative and qualitative aquifer status and trends.
Solutions are to be built upon the already achieved results in the region in sustainable groundwater management (including quantitative and qualitative aspects).
Special attention should be dedicated to the temporal water availability and variability of groundwater quality. In parallel, there is a strong need to improve advanced monitoring and early warning systems associated to the transport of pollutants from the soils and the vadose zone to groundwater. These systems need to focus on both point and non-point sources that causes the increasing groundwater pollution trends, as well as on a number of relevant pollutants (including organic pollutants). Systems will also provide real-time assessment of aquifer remediation efficiency. Advanced monitoring will provide data for the evaluation of impacts and trends, for the integrated planning of the allocation and quality management of urban, industrial and agricultural groundwater abstractions according to the impact of these activities on water quality, and for the assessment of possible future scenarios combined with optimisation processes. The socio-economic dimensions of sustainable management of groundwater resources will be analysed, focusing on issues like water pricing and water access for irrigation. Tools and solutions for decision support on remediation strategies will be produced considering local and regional water governance constraints. Capacity building activities on groundwater resources knowledge and sustainable management to support decision makers on remediation strategies are strongly recommended. Representative monitoring areas should be either initiated or maintained, ensuring replicability of the efforts in other Mediterranean areas with similar geological and environmental constraints.
Proposals should contribute to implement priorities set in the PRIMA SRIA and show the clear link of how expected impacts from the projects are going to implement the expected outputs indicated in PRIMA SRIA.
The project results must contribute to PRIMA Operational objectives 2/LAND AND WATER SUSTAINABILITY
The project results are also expected to contribute to:
Strengthening the understanding of the analysis of basic components of the groundwater cycle in the selected Mediterranean study areas, and their temporal variability, includinghydrologic, environmental and socio-economic aspects.
Improved resilience and security for groundwater resources, both in coastal and in-land areas.
Early warning systems on aquifer overexploitation and pollution.
Management strategies for the sustainable exploitation of aquifer water sources.
Cost-effective and high-efficiency managed aquifer recharge (indirect and direct for potable water).
New modelling routines for determining the basic components of groundwater cycle, including economic, social and technical aspects (e.g. groundwater accumulation and storage).
Supporting information for the Section 1 Call for Proposals, Topic 1.1.1
Type of actionResearch & Innovation Action (RIA)
 Annex 1 of the PRIMA Annual Work Plan 2019, pages 114-117: Table linking AWP 2019 call topics expected impact to SRIA expected outcomes
 PRIMA SRIA Expected Outcomes Thematic Area Water Management Operational objectives 2/LAND AND WATER SUSTAINABILITY page 25
 Annex 1 of the Annual Work Plan 2019, pages 114-117: Table linking AWP 2019 call topics expected impact to SRIA expected outcomes
 Such as comprehension of water balance, effective monitoring and early warning systems, integrated planning, socioeconomic assessments, etc.
The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area will devise new R&I approaches to improve water availability and sustainable agriculture production in a region heavily distressed by climate change, urbanisation and population growth
The PRIMA programme is an Art.185 initiative supported and funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.