INTEGRATING NUMERICAL MODELS IN RIVER BASIN MANAGEMENT PLANS: THE FREEWAT PROJECT
Free (open access)
227 - 238
MANUEL SAPIANO, MICHAEL SCHEMBRI, HENRY DEBATTISTA, NADIA THEUMA
The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires the achievement of good status in the water environment through the implementation of River Basin Management Plans (RBMP). The long-term impact of these plans and their contribution to the achievement of good status is however generally difficult to predict and quantify, thus presenting an important constraint in this planning process. Numerical models are a tool which can enable water managers to predict the effective impact of measures on a water-body scale, and therefore enable a more reliable assessment of the effectiveness of the plan in achieving the set objectives. The FREEWAT Project aims at the development of an open source and public domain GIS integrated modelling environment for the simulation of water quantity and quality in surface water and groundwater bodies. One of the pilot initiatives under this project focuses on the island of Gozo (Malta) where the FREEWAT modelling environment is being used for the development of a numerical model of the mean sea-level groundwater body present in this island. This paper assesses the integration of this numerical model in the river basin management framework of the island, in support of the achievement of the good status objectives for this groundwater body. The paper focuses on the application of the FREEWAT based numerical model for the assessment of the impact of the groundwater management strategies envisaged under Malta’s 2nd RBMP on the quantitative status of the groundwater body. Furthermore, it provides an outlook on the application of the model to assess the response of the groundwater body to changing natural conditions arising due to the projected impact of climate change. In so doing, the modelling framework provides water managers the opportunity to consider within the basin river management framework the necessary flexibilities to ensure the continued achievement of the WFD’s objectives under future scenarios.
water framework directive, FREEWAT, numerical model, groundwater status, river basin management plan