Learning from rivers for rivers
02 July 2012 | Article
Cyprus is recognized by the European Union as a water-scarce country. Reservoirs have been constructed to store available water and hence counter this resource limitation. The need to thoroughly investigate the quality of the water collected in the reservoirs was urged by the country’s obligations towards the European Union’s Water Framework Directive. Terra Cypria, an IUCN Member, is a partner in the project.
The Adaqua project (Advanced aquatic tools for sustainable pollution management in the river basins of Cyprus) was developed in response to a number of recognized needs related to river watershed management. It is an innovative two-year research project, with the aim to collect diverse information on the condition of two pilot watersheds (Garyllis and Limnatis Rivers) and integrate these into a hazard assessment decision support toolkit, the so-called Watershed Hazard Maps (WHMs).
Bi-weekly samples (collected from 15 sites along the full length of the watersheds) give a snapshot of the microbiological, virological, physicochemical and hydrological status of the water. The application of novel microbial source-tracking techniques enables the researchers to identify the source of fecal pollution in the river. Biomonitoring feeds the WHMs with essential information on the long-term water quality as it is mirrored on the benthic macroinvertebrate bio-communities structure.
This is the first time Cypriot watersheds are being ecologically assessed in their full length, with an abundance of freshwater invertebrates acting as bio-indicators. The condition of riverine habitats is also assessed by the River Habitat Survey (RHS) and the Riparian Forest Quality (QBR).
The essential social and educational aspects of river management are also taken into consideration, through the use of semi-structured interviews with locals, stakeholders and decision-makers, as well as on-site educational interactive activities.
Adaqua’s results aim to facilitate holistic river basin management through the integration of short and long-term surface water quality characteristics into a hazard assessment decision support kit.
Partners in the project are the Cyprus State General Laboratory, Terra Cypria – the Cyprus Conservation Foundation, the University of Brighton and the Cyprus Water Development Department. The project is funded by the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation and the Structural Funds of the European Union.
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