Special Secretariat for Water, being responsible for the implementation of the WFD in Greece, needs to evaluate the efficacy, under climate change pressures, of regulatory measures (Emission Limit Values) imposed on local industry at the Asopos River area.
River Flow indicators will be the key data for evaluating the assimilative capacity of Asopos River under different scenarios regarding average flow conditions.
Climate impact indicators, conveniently accessible, are free of the need for laborious processing. They cannot cover all aspects of local issues but, combined with local information, they are key-data for integrated climate change impact investigations.
Case Study Description
The Asopos River basin is located in central Greece, at the River Basin District of Eastern Sterea Ellada. Its water bodies receive significant pressure, in terms of both quantity and quality, mainly attributed to water abstraction for irrigation and to the significant industrial activity in the area, respectively. The industrial sector in the area reflects approximately 20% of the total national industrial production. Special Secretariat for Water, responsible for the implementation of the WFD in Greece, needs to assess the climate change impact on water quality of Asopos River. This assessment addresses the efficacy of regulatory measures (Emission Limit Values) imposed on local industry in the near future and the need to climate-proof the fragile balance between the quality of an important waterbody and the economic growth and industrial sustainability.
The present study aims at the evaluation of the efficacy, under climate change conditions, of regulatory measures imposed on local industry for the environmental protection of Asopos River. Current results, based on the use of SWICCA data, indicate a small impact on the Emission Limit Values for industries in the Asopos area, associated with climate change, and higher regulatory compliance risks for some pollutants than others. These results support some of the aspects considered by the client in the decision making process concerning the environmental policy for the Asopos river.
Indicators downloaded from SWICCA Demonstrator combined with local data allowed for an assessment of the climate change impact on monthly river discharges which in turn affects the water quality of Asopos River. These data support maintaining the delicate balance between environmental protection and economic viability and sustainability of the significant industrial activity in the area.
The client is interested in evaluating (1) environmental impacts of climate change and (2) protective/adaptive measures effectiveness for a period of maximum 20 years ahead.
The above mentioned goals concerns the Asopos River Basin (regional scale), which extends over 720 km2, located only 35 km away from Greek capital, Athens, and hosts a large industrial sector (20% of the total national industrial production).
The communication with the client takes place via meetings in person, phone calls and e-mails. Meetings are arranged for results presentation, commenting, discussions and conveying information. Presentations of the concept and the project workflow, combined with discussions lead to a better understanding of the information that can be made available, the level of service that can be offered and the client’s needs.
Knowledge brokering is better served by personal meetings and the SWICCA demonstrator has proved to be a great tool for quick presentation of climate services and raising awareness on potential climate change impacts, as well as a mean for conveying the nature of uncertainty which characterises climate change. Often, the client is not entirely aware of the climate services that can be available, or the significance of taking into account climate change aspects. Implicating the client vividly, in key points of the procedure, has led to more productive analysis.
Indicators used for this study are: River Flow (seasonality).
The investigation of possible connections between hydrological forcing data (from pan-European models) and historical water quality problems may reveal useful, local indicators.
Indicators of Hydrology and future climate – Identification of future discharge characteristics for Asopos River Basin. Relative indicators: (1) future change of low-flow discharges, low flow characteristics (discharge, mean annual duration etc) but also indicators on most prevailing flow conditions and (2) future predictions of discharge time series to be directly evaluated. Indicators result from Pan-European hydrological models, which were based on Pan-European climate change predictions from an ensemble of climate models.
Local data of industrial activity – Collect local data concerning industrial activity in Asopos River Basin which is related directly to the river (e.g. effluent receiver or water source). Collect local discharge data and identify major pollutants loading of river.
Local socio-economic data – Investigate connections between population, local economic growth, present ecological status and official regulatory permits.
Historical data analysis – Evaluate population and sectoral economy growth potential, based on local historical data, in order to estimate future industrial activity and future pollution loads in Asopos River.
Water Quality Modelling – Use hydrological data (Pan-European indicators) and estimated pollution loads (River Basin Assessment), to model water quality of Asopos River under present and future conditions. Evaluate different climate change scenarios to investigate the effect of hydrological changes in the assimilative capacity of the river. Examine the seasonal variations in the assimilative capacity to identify periods of time that surface water quality is likely to be compromised by specific pollutants. Investigate connection of hydrological forcing data (from pan-European models) with water quality problems and identify possible useful indicators.
Adaptation Strategy – If climate change impact to the river’s assimilative ability and quality is significant, depending on the future scenario evaluated, strategic adaptation measures will be investigated to ensure sustainable and environmental-friendly economic growth of the study area. Reevaluation of Emission Limit Values for the industry or measures to be incorporated in River Basin Management Plans will be discussed. Uncertainties of the assessment, related to the uncertainties of the climate change indicators, can be crucial and should be estimated if necessary and significant changes should be imposed on local economy.
The Maps, Graphs and download interactive web map proved to be a useful tool in the interaction with the clients which allowed for raising awareness on potential climate change impacts and for quick demonstration of climate services potential for climate change impact investigations. Additionally, the climate service provides the means for conveying the nature of uncertainty which characterises climate change and is not easily perceived by the clients. The C3S climate service has been a convenient portal and a pleasant experience for finding, exploring, choosing and downloading climate change data. The available, easily accessible climate impact indicators are free of the need for laborious processing.
Indicators downloaded from the Demonstrator allowed for assessments of the climate change impact on monthly river discharges, in a comprehensive way without the use of complicated climate and hydrological models, indicating that river discharges in Asopos area are not likely to change drastically, taking into account the magnitude of summer low discharges which pose a greater risk for the surface water quality. Future projections are characterised by a rather large spread, but median values give a marginal decrease. Combined with local data on industrial activity, the scenarios examined indicate a small impact on the Emission Limit Values (ELVs) for industries in the Asopos area, associated with climate change. A re-evaluation of the ELVs in the future may be necessary only in response to an increase in the industrial activity of the area, however this is not considered the most likely scenario.
Ensuring environmental sustainability along with economic growth of local industry is a key goal of national and EU planning and closely depends on the ability to adapt to future climate conditions. Special Secretariat for Water (client), being responsible for the implementation of the WFD and related policies in Greece, is interested in evaluating current regulatory measures (Emission Limit Values) imposed on local industry, under climate change pressures. Often, the necessary estimations of future hydrologic conditions for incorporation in environmental assessments may include rough estimations, or even assumptions, of expected change in some of the problem’s variables. The C3S Climate Service provides a series of different climate impact indicators and variables, which can be easily accessible and are available for different scenarios, “in an environment where the transparent, evident scientific knowledge base enhances the user-perceived data reliability”.
As a result, the effect of climate change impact on hydrology and therefore on the environmental status can be assessed thoroughly, increasing climate adaptation ability and policy conformance to bring about sustainable local economy.
Environmental policies (e.g. WFD) impose the need to protect the quality of Asopos River and therefore, establish regulations for water uses. However, it is also very important for the local economy that the significant industrial sector continue to be viable and not “strangled” by hard-to-comply-with regulations. The above “boundary conditions” define a fragile relationship between sustainable economy and environment. This fragile balance could be easily overthrown by climate change impacts. The cost of changing the above-mentioned balance would be hard to estimate, however it is self-evident that armoring the industry-river relationship against climate change impacts is of great environmental and economic importance.
The present case study is related to water quality issues of the Asopos River, a major effluent receiver of an extended industrial area. The Special Secretariat for Water needs to evaluate the efficacy of the currently established effluent quality limitations and if necessary adjust the relevant local policy, in relation to the goals of the EU Water Framework Directive.
EMVIS Consultant Engineers
+30 210 652 8078
Special Secretariat for Water - Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change
Purveyor: EMVIS Consultant Engineers
+30 210 652 8078
Value added by Copernicus Climate Change Service:
Client: Special Secretariat for Water
Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change
Testing of Emission Limit Values with wPolis developed under SWITCH-ON project
Testing risk of violating Environmental Quality Standards using wPrisma developed under SWITCH-ON project