INWAT - Quality and management of intermittent rivers and associated groundwaters in the Mediterranean basins

About Us

The Mediterranean region is increasingly affected by water scarcity because of rising demand (population growth and land-use changes) and decreasing availability (cimate change led rainfall decreases). This situation leads to more temporary waterways. INWAT will develop and improve tools to analyze, understand and predict hydrology, chemical and ecological status, and services in the Mediterranean area characterized by temporary waterways, and will integrate all these pieces in a decision-support system.

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Period of Implementations

Jul 1, 2019 - Jun 30, 2023

Total Budget

EUR 1.519.000,00



The main goal of the INWAT project is to investigate temporary waterways from a holistic point of view, considering biophysical and socio-economic aspects in a single project, and integrating them in a decision-support system co-develop with stakeholders. Specifically, a multi-disciplinary team has been assembled to study emerging pollutants dynamics, hydrology, ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as ecosystem services. A trans-disciplinary aspect is also achieved in INWAT, as knowledge and developed tools will be transferred directly to water managers from both northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean, and with them, a decision-support system will be co-developed, therefore ensuring the impact of our project results.


The INWAT project aims to develop new and improved methods to support the management of temporary waterways and aquifers in Mediterranean river basins. The main objectives are: o to develop innovative methods and tools for hydrological monitoring for temporary waterways representing the widest possible diversity of management scenarios under water scarcity conditions, such as sea intrusion and groundwater recharge, groundwater water quality issues . o to improve the knowledge about pollution sources of temporary waterways in MENA countries and processes that naturally attenuate contamination by chemicals. This includes the standardization of analytical methods, the analysis of organic pollutants in wastewaters, rivers and aquifers and also the investigation of abiotic and biotic transformation processes in temporary waterways and associated groundwater bodies. o to develop novel methodologies for monitoring and assessing the ecological status of temporary waterways. This addresses specifically the development and refinement of biological indicators and biomonitoring programs. o to co-develop a decision-support system with stakeholders involved in water management (i.e. public water agencies, private operators of the sanitation and potabilization sectors) for the design of management actions to counteract the effects of global change in water-scarce regions.

Impact Pathway

1. Designing new modelling routines for determining the basic components of the water cycle, including economic, social and technical aspects (e.g. groundwater accumulation storage and recharge) and for forecasting droughts. INWAT will design and apply new modelling routines in the areas of pollution (WP1), hydrology (WP2), ecology (WP3), and ecosystem services (WP4) for temporary waterways. These will enable water managers to better predict and manage hydrological extremes and their consequences on water quantity and quality, as well as on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The decision support system developed in WP4 will provide water manager with a tailor-made tool for linking process-based spatially explicit models, GIS-based biophysical and socioeconomic information, expert knowledge and practitioner’s needs. It will allow for the evaluation of the effects of management actions on multiple benefits, thus assessing trade-offs among services, ecological status and water quantity and quality issues. 2. Mitigating pollution processes by better assessing water management policies and the impact of anthropogenic activities. The decision support system developed in WP4 will take into account the water management policies and governance structures of the various involved countries. This will be ensured by the close involvement of stakeholders, who will co-develop the decision support system for the case-study basins, thus enabling a swift implementation into practice. INWAT will cover all components of the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) chain, thus linking human water uses to pollution and hydrological changes, alterations of the rivers’ physico-chemistry and biology to possible mitigation and restoration measures. Uniform guidelines for basin management with temporary waterways among the Mediterranean countries do still not exist and these are required for better and better comparable management policies. For instance, few national guidelines in non-EU countries focus on risks from pathogens together with heavy metals, while organic microcontaminants have been largely overlooked. Establishing common guidelines for the management of temporary waterways with a large proportion of temporary waterways connecting various components of water quality and water quantity will be a major contribution of the INWAT project. 3. A reduction in the risk of saline intrusion and improved management of salt accumulation in overexploited underground water bodies. INWAT approach: Seawater intrusion is a relevant pressure in various case study basins, e.g. in the Riera de Llançà, and will be addressed in the monitoring methods of physico-chemistry and biology. Diatoms, as an indicator group specifically responding to salinization, have been included into WP3 to account for seawater intrusion pressures.

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