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Pilot Arno Water Accounts (PAWA) Project

European Commission DG Envrionment.

Preparatory Action on development of prevention activities to halt desertification in Europe.




The project "PAWA - Pilot Arno Water Accounts" under the Grant Agreement No. 07.0329/2013/671279/SUB/ENV.C.1 started at the beginning of January as part of the funding call announced by the Directorate General Environment of the European Commission (DG ENV), with the aim of promoting preventive actions on European basins against desertification through a sustainable management of water resources.

The Coordinating entity is the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), and the main partners are: the Arno River Basin Agency (ARBA), Italy and the Euro-Mediterranean Information System on know-how in the Water sector (EMWIS/SEMIDE), France

The duration of the action is 15 months, and the works will be developed throughout 2014.


Summary of the action:

This pilot initiative is presented to halt desertification in the Arno River Basin (Italy), an area which already presents water scarcity and droughts, extensive water withdrawals and land use changes, with a situation expected to worsen in the future due to global climate changes. It is important to mention that the Arno River Basin has a significant experience as pilot RB for water scarcity and drought at EU level with the definition of hydrological balances and minimal environmental flows. Under the coordination of ISPRA, Arno e Po river basins played an active role in the definition of WEI+ exercise carried out in the last WFD CIS programming period in the frame of the Water Scarcity and Drought Expert Group activities. With a 10 years experience in drought management and participatory approach, the Arno River Basin is an ideal location to carry out this kind of studies and assess the integration of water resources efficiency measures into River Basin Management Plan.


The general objective of the action is to improve knowledge on water resources available in the Arno River basin and their use and to assess the potential impact of management, technological and economical measures to reduce the vulnerability of the territory against desertification, water scarcity and drought.


The specific objectives are:

  • to prepare physical water accounts following the SEEA-W framework using the best available data coming from field measurements or resulting from models when necessary. These water accounts with a monthly resolution for several past years in order to identify trends. The geographical resolution will be based on the ECRINS reference system. The quality of each dataset will be assessed using a simple scorecard based on the estimated accuracy of the data source;
  • to prepare visualization products (e.g. graphs and maps) based on the water accounts for decision making and concertation with local stakeholders in the basin, according to international standards applied to spatial data infrastructures;
  • to use water accounts to assess the potential impact of combining various measures related to water resources efficiency in the most vulnerable sub-basins and test their acceptability during a workshop with stakeholders.
  • to prepare water efficiency targets for potential future integration into Arno River Basin Management Plan;
  • to disseminate the project results and share experiences with other basin organisations and water authorities in Italy as well as in the Euromed area.


The main activities planned are:

• Inventory of data availability, characteristics of sub-basins and capacity building on water accounts based on SEEA-W approach

• Data collection and assessment of the quality of datasets

• Building the water accounts and visualization tools to support concertation with local stakeholders

• Optimization of measures by building scenarios with the stakeholders for potential inclusion in future RBMP

• Assessment of results and reporting, in particular provision of the datasets to the EEA as a contribution to the development of EU water accounts at sub basin level with a monthly time scale

• Dissemination of results and participation in EU concertation with other projects and initiatives launched in this context


The results of PAWA project will be used at several levels:

• At Arno river basin level, by ARBA and local stakeholders to improve decision making related to quantitative water resources management

• At the Italian level, by ISPRA for coherent developments in other river basins that will face desertification or water scarcity in the future

• At the Euromed level, by EMWIS in particular in the framework of the extension of SEIS to South EU neighborhood countries for structuring water information systems

• At the EU level, by the EEA and DG ENV feeding into the WFD Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) to improve the EU wide water accounts and to provide examples of quantitative water resources management measures and related targets that could be added to RBMP as a response to the outcomes of the “Blueprint to safeguard Europe’s waters”.


Kick-off meeting:

The first meeting of the action took place in Florence (Italy) on 28 January 2014.

Final meeting:

The final meeting of the action will take place in Florence (Italy) on 31 March 2015.