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Water-bearing characterization with integrated methodologies (CAMI)
Start date: Dec 1, 2004, End date: May 31, 2007 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Indiscriminate use of water and poor protection of resources pose dangers to future generations even in areas where water is plentiful. The combined challenges of population growth, pollution and climatic changes add urgency to the problem. The need to manage and conserve these resources in order to sustain life successfully in the future is an important goal of European environmental policy. The EU Water Framework Directive, introduced in 2000, addresses these issues by promoting sustainable use of water, reduction of pollution and protection of aquatic ecosystems. It requires Member States to reach good chemical and ecological status in inland and coastal waters by 2015. Among its innovative measures is a requirement for States to classify and manage river basins by their natural area, independent of national borders. Member States must complete detailed analysis of the characteristics of each river basin, review the impact of human activity and produce economic analysis of water use. The results must be used to produce a management plan and programme of conservation measures for each defined water district. Objectives The Cami project, based in the Torrate di Chions area of north-east Italy, was designed to support the Water Framework Directive by using a new, integrated approach to assess and manage a water-basin area. It aimed to become a model for transfer to other river basin areas. The project set out to develop and test a method of combining work across a range of scientific disciplines to identify ways to achieve better sustainability of an area’s water resources. This would entail detailed investigation into the characteristics of the hydro-geological district and then an evaluation of the impact of human activity. The project was designed to: 1. Assist planning of water resources for different uses (civil, agricultural, industrial). 2. Provide evaluation methods for the impact of new industrial and civil settlements on water resources. 3. Model ways of quantifying groundwater. 4. Provide data for research into management of water ecosystems. Existing methods were to be combined with innovative approaches. Detailed work on investigating the physical characteristics of the area, for instance through isotopic geochemistry and geophysical techniques, was to be linked with existing data. Alternative considerations would also include assessment of the control of watercourses, control of pollution using continuous or occasional monitoring, and use of a modelling system for improving management of surface and underground water flow. Results The Cami project succeeded in providing a large amount of data and a methodology for investigating and assessing characteristics of a river-basin area and its future management. Numerous issues relating to climate change, increased stress on groundwater bodies and depletion of high-quality water resources can be tackled by means of the tools developed. Among the achievements was the construction of a comprehensive model of all groundwater in the project area. Work included sophisticated mapping of the underground water system, integration of geological and geophysical data, evidence from direct drilling, use of isotopic geochemistry, and field testing. One notable success came when drilling an exploration well to a depth of 500 m confirmed suggestions from the integrated analysis and discovered a previously unknown aquifer. The borehole – to a depth far beyond the reach of any previous local drilling - has resulted in a new freshwater reserve of strategic relevance. Project work began by modelling the hydrographic district of the Tagliamento river basin using integrated geophysics. It included a seismic survey, geoelectric survey and ground-penetrating radar. Together with geochemical and isotopic data, a comprehensive groundwater framework was produced. Thermographic mapping was used to complete an inventory of spring areas. Aquifers were assessed through isotopic geochemistry; wells and surface water were extensively tested for radioactive radon, tritium and oxygen-18. Results were integrated with those from geophysical and geochemical methods carried out by a project partner. A guide protocol was produced for safeguarding groundwater in a multi-aquifer system. The large amount of data produced by the many scientific disciplines working in the project was integrated into a Regional Geohydrological Information System (REGIS), a computer-based system developed by the beneficiary. Groundwater flow data over the whole Friuli Venezia Giulia region was installed on a software modelling system and simulations run using different scenarios. Results provide an important aid to evaluating use of resources and the effects of further groundwater extraction. Methods from the project have been widely promoted among national and international managers of water resources. The resulting final guide protocol includes detailed cost-benefit analysis of the procedures (i.e. demonstrating that the application of the integrated CAMI methodology is cheaper than the traditional ones when it comes to the research of unexploited resources of strategic relevance). The beneficiary believes this will be valued by all involved in planning and management of groundwater resources throughout the EU.

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