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LIFE Trivers: first stakeholder meeting of the European project to improve the management of temporary rivers

The first stakeholder meeting of the LIFE Trivers project took place at the headquarters of the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation, in Valencia.

The first stakeholder meeting of the LIFE Trivers project took place at the headquarters of the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation, in Valencia.

The LIFE Trivers project is an initiative fostered by a consortium led by Professor Narcís Prat, director of the Research Group Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM) of UB.

The LIFE Trivers project is an initiative fostered by a consortium led by Professor Narcís Prat, director of the Research Group Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM) of UB.

The main objectives of the European project LIFE Trivers is to provide solutions to achieve a correct diagnosis of river ecological status and to improve the management of temporary rivers.

The main objectives of the European project LIFE Trivers is to provide solutions to achieve a correct diagnosis of river ecological status and to improve the management of temporary rivers.

Another fundamental aspect of Trivers project consists in determining the relationship among the hydrological conditions of a river and the biological communities that inhabit it.

Another fundamental aspect of Trivers project consists in determining the relationship among the hydrological conditions of a river and the biological communities that inhabit it.

30/01/2015

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On Tuesday 27 January, the first stakeholder meeting of the LIFE Trivers project took place at the headquarters of the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation, in Valencia. The meeting gathered stakeholders and experts involved in temporary river management who analysed the difficulties in assessing the ecological status of temporary rivers.

The main objectives of the European project LIFE Trivers, led by the University of Barcelona (UB), is to provide solutions to achieve a correct diagnosis of river ecological status and to improve the management of temporary rivers considering the Water Framework Directive (WFD) of the European Union. The Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) and the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation (CHJ) participate in the project.

The meeting was opened by the president of the CHJ, María Ángeles Ureña, who highlighted the need to know better temporary rivers in order to improve their management. The session focused on the presentation of the first version of the software TREHS (Temporary Rivers Ecological and Hydrological Status), developed within the LIFE Trivers project.

The software will enable to know the evolution of river hydrological characteristics over time and to determine the probability of water abstraction at different moments throughout the year; The tool is expected to help managers select appropriate sampling dates and use the right methods to determine ecological status. The programme uses observed data, predictive models and, as an alternative, surveys conducted among local population. Moreover, it contributes to determine if water abstraction is due to natural changes or human intervention. According to Francesc Gallart, researcher at IDAEA-CSIC, “to obtain the statistics of the different aquatic of a temporary river is the key to achieve Trivers’ objectives”. 

Another fundamental aspect of Trivers project consists in determining the relationship among the hydrological conditions of a river and the biological communities that inhabit it. Habitat connectivity is the main factor that determines the aquatic fauna of a temporary river. Núria Cid, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Ecology at the UB and Trivers project manager, affirms that “a river that is temporal in a natural way must be considered a different type of ecosystem, not a permanent river affected by human impact”.

Tools designed to evaluate the ecological status are particularly addressed to permanent rivers and, in most cases, they cannot be used for temporary rives. Antoni Munné, head of the Department of Aquatic Ecosystem Control and Improvement of the Catalan Water Agency, emphasizes that “reference data used to determine if a river is in a good ecological status vary depending on the moment in which samples are collected. To collect samples at a moment in which the river is dried up or, on the contrary, in a moment in which water flows is a crucial for diagnosis”.

Within temporary rivers, managers are particularly worried about ephemeral rivers. Teodoro Estrela, head of the Hydrological Planning Office at the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation, underlines that “it is necessary to establish some environmental objectives for temporary rivers, particularly for those in which water flows only some days in a year and the diagnosis of the ecological status is extremely difficult”. 

Participants’ opinions about the first version of TREHS were very positive; they highlighted software’s great ability to integrate information. Participants, for instance the Portuguese Environment Agency, showed interest in being part of a community of users of TREHS that will enable to exchange opinions, experiences and information and to apply the tool to temporary rivers in other basins.

 

For further information please visit the site of the LIFE Trivers project.

 

Photographs: Research Group Freshwater Ecology and Management of the UB

 

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