The full story
An ecologically-sensitive area
Spercheios River and its deltaic system is located in Central Greece, close to the historic site of Thermopylae. Many ecologically-important areas protected under the NATURA 2000 network are located within the 1828 km2 Spercheios river basin. Anthropogenic interventions in the deltaic area, especially after the 1950s has influenced its natural habitats. The main interventions include:
- Constantly increasing intensification of agricultural cultivations that have been expanding on the natural riparian vegetation at the expense of habitats biodiversity
- Over-pumping of groundwater and river water abstractions for irrigation
- Use of fertilisers and pesticides as well as uncontrolled disposal of urban wastes and household refuses from villages
- Wastewater and solid industrial wastes that aggravate the natural habitats and affect the fauna and water quality of surface and underground waters
- Construction of roads, irrigation and drainage networks that have significantly altered the natural drainage regime, thereby aggravating the flooding problem. The area is also frequently affected by heavy rainfall and floods that take place about once every three years.
Need for an overall understanding of aquatic conditions
Our client faced these challenges:
- Frequent flooding in urban and agricultural areas leading to great financial losses and health risks for the local community
- Many man-hours spent monthly on processing and maintaining scattered personal databases with sampling and monitoring data
- Lack of scientifically-proven hydrological knowledge easily accessible to authorities and local farmers
The project’s ultimate goal was to combine all individual, optimised environmental tools, models and indicators (biological, hydrological, water quality, socio-economic, and so on) in order to obtain a holistic view of the study area’s aquatic environment.
Automated and self-supervised DSS
Our solution involved the creation of an online monitoring, hydrological forecasting, flood forecasting and water quality management system.
The implemented DSS served as a development platform for data collection, processing, integration, quality assurance and monitoring. It is also used for updating of models, forecasting and web publishing/sharing.
It receives distributed rainfall and temperature data from the ‘Poseidon’ meteorological system as a primary model input as well as monitors data from stations installed in the wider basin/coastal areas to perform the following tasks in an automated, scheduled and self-supervised way:
- Monitors continuous water level and physicochemical parameters in the river basin and in Maliakos Gulf
- Collects and presents historical sampling timeseries (discharge, physicochemical and chemical) at 14 river and coastal locations
- Provides historical discharge values and four days forecasts at the river outflows
- Provides 2D distributed daily hindcasts for the last ten days and daily four days forecasts for hydrological parameters such as actual evapotranspiration, aquifer recharge and soil water content
- Provides standard water balance charts
- Provides 2D distributed hourly flood forecasts of water depth in the river basin for the next four days
- Sends automated alarms via emails or SMS when a threshold (for example, water depth or physicochemical parameter) is exceeded
- Self-maintenance of database
HCMR also simulated the 3D hydrodynamics of Maliakos Gulf circulation and its water quality by combining outputs from the hydrological model with the Gulf’s boundary conditions.
Improved operational efficiency
The timely and accurate data that is now available, coming from monitoring stations and model predictions and forecasts, contributes to informed decision-making in both the river basin and the coastal Gulf area. With a powerful framework in hand, HCMR and the region of Central Greece are now able to study the changes that occur in the area with ease, leading to optimal management and restoration practices.
The forecasting and monitoring capabilities of our solution enable authorities to plan mitigation measures and find the best ways to deal with emerging problems.
Readily-available information results in optimised and more efficient agricultural practices which translate to cost-savings for the local farmers.
More understanding of climate change and land-use impacts
As part of this research effort, the effects of climate and land use changes were also studied. Scenarios were run to assess how changes in land use regimes, irrigation practices and climate would affect the river basin and coastal (Maliakos Gulf’s) water quality and quantity.
Publicly-accessible data platform
The sampling and monitoring data, flood forecasts and hydrological forecasts can be accessed by the public here and used by authorities. A walk-through guide (in Greek) for the project website may be viewed here.