RER2018018 / RER7013

Title Evaluating groundwater resources and groundwater-surface water interactions in the context of adapting to climate change
Link to the website ;
Programme International Atomic Energy Agency Technical Cooperation Regional Project
Project duration 2020-2024
The role of GeoZS in the project National counterpart and coordinator or case study Vulnerability assessment of stratified, often transboundary aquifers using the isotope (dating) method
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Project Development Objective is to enhance evidence-based decision making in support of SDG target 6.5 “By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate”.

Groundwater represents 98% of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. The use of groundwater has increased significantly over past decades and today, there is an increasing global risk of an over-depletion of groundwater, quality deterioration and pollution, putting at risk the resilience of communities, populations and ecosystems dependent on groundwater sources. The better understating of complex aquifer systems is indispensable for effective Integrated Water Management. The project aims to bridge gaps by transferring knowledge and capacity from advanced to less advanced 26 countries from Europe and Central Asia by (1) increasing awareness on the existence of isotope hydrology techniques in Member States where knowledge is very limited, (2) transferring knowledge and building capacity on the use of isotope hydrology techniques through training courses and fellowships, (3) answering specific regional or sub-regional and transboundary questions, such as on the impact of a changing climate and anthropogenic activities on groundwater resources, and (4) enhancing and sustaining a regional network for the monitoring and evaluation of water resource quality and quantity using isotope techniques. The ultimate aim of this project is to enhance evidence-based decision-making in integrated water management by an improved characterization and monitoring of groundwater resources. Therefore three outputs are planned:

  • Comprehensive situation analyses on hydrology infrastructure completed and IWAVE approach implemented in selected Member States.
  • Institutional and technical capacity of participating isotope hydrology institutions improved.
  • Monitoring networks established and new hydrological information acquired by nuclear techniques and other research tools compiled into sub-regional reports.

Seven case studies:

  1. Source, age and recharge patterns of groundwaters in SE Europe
  2. Application of the environment isotopes in “Oko” transboundary karst aquifer (water supply of Trebinje town)
  3. Environmental tracers for the assessment of nitrate contamination of coupled groundwater -surface water systems
  4. Coastal aquifers case study
  5. Application of isotope hydrology in the transboundary Syr Darya river basin for water balance estimation and quality control purposes
  6. Vulnerability assessment of stratified, often transboundary aquifers using the isotope (dating) method

Coordinator: GeoZS

Participating institutions : Armenia: IGS, Bolgaria: NIMH, Czech: HBU, CTU, Estonia: UT, EGS, EEA, TALTECH, Georgia: IG TSU, Croatia: HGI-CGS, Hungary: Atomki, Latvia: UL, LSES, Moldova: IGS_MD, Romania: ISER, USV UBB, Russia: MSU, Slovenia: GeoZS, JSI, SEA, Slovakia: SGIDS.

The objective of this study is to evaluate vulnerability of stratified groundwater resources at selected pilot areas in 13 countries in Europe and Caucasus. The focus is in investigation of possibilities for adaptation to climate change with alternating recharge rates and distribution, and in evaluation of risk of over-abstraction. It is focused on developing cost- and time efficient sampling strategies for selection of best applicable dating method for various natural conditions. This will be discussed based on variability of isotopic composition and determined groundwater retention times using stable isotopes and various isotopic dating techniques. Applying this approach we will distinguish among hierarchically nestled flow systems, and estimate proportions of relict and modern water sources.

Since beginning of 2021 we have been measuring monthly physico-chemical parameters and stable isotopes of water (oxygen and hydrogen) in precipitation at Ptuj and Murska Sobota, Mura River and groundwater at Ptuj. In autumn 2021 we have sampled 13 fresh waters from Quaternary, Pliocene and Miocene aquifers and thermal waters in NE Slovenia to determine their age and origin.

  1. Influence of climate change on groundwater resources and groundwater/surface water interactions in the Sava River basin

Coordinator: FMGPE

Participating institutions: Slovenia: GeoZS, SEA, JSI; Croatia: FMGPE, RBI; Bosnia and Herzegovina: GSFBH, GSRS; Serbia: FSDP, GSS.

Sava River is the main recharge source for the alluvial aquifers in its basin, especially in the upper part of the flow, in Slovenia and Croatia. The aim of these research is to establish international working group to establish new GNIP and GNIR points in the Sava River basin, and to define groundwater-surface interaction in the different parts of the Sava River basin. Evaluation of the isotopic results together with historical hydrological and meteorological data will show the influence of climate change on groundwater resources which will help to identify and implement measures for the sustainable groundwater resource management.

Since mid- 2020 we have been measuring monthly physico-chemical parameters and stable isotopes of water (oxygen and hydrogen) in precipitation, Sava River and groundwater at Lesce-Radovljica, Ljubljana-Krka and Krško, and tritium in Ljubljana.

Paticipation at trainings: TN-RER7013-2004399 Virtual Regional Training Course on Isotope Hydrology (2020/2021 and 2021/2022), EVT2105062: Virtual Regional Training Course on Nitrate Isotope (2021), EVT1904188 Designation - Virtual Training Course on the Use of the Noble Gases in Hydrological Studies (2021).

Financing : TCF budget: 866,580 €, Non-TC: 793,500 €, Total : 1,660,080 €