Description and objectives of the project

The scientific community recommends a substantial improvement in the knowledge of aquifers, the establishment of reliable monitoring networks and a greater involvement of the administration and users to achieve a sustainable management of aquifers. The main objective of the AQUIFER project is to capitalise, test, disseminate and transfer innovative practices for the preservation, monitoring and integrated management of aquifers, which support decision-making in groundwater management. It also aims to improve technology transfer to local stakeholders, create new synergies and develop common tools in a context of water scarcity and environmental threats. The main innovative element of the AQUIFER project is the consideration of the problem in its entirety: experimentation of management tools on the “quantity” and “quality” components of water: recharge management, hydrological monitoring and network modelling, in particular. It is also intended to detect, test and implement innovations thanks to the 3 water clusters linked to a network of actors in the water sector, and the creation of a decision-making tool to disseminate good practices through the creation of a transnational web platform.


Information on the project

The Llobregat Delta Water Users’ Community has designed recharge basins in Molins de Rei to recharge the Baix Llobregat aquifer.

View of one of the reloading basins during the test phase

The Llobregat Delta Water Users’ Community is one of the nine partners in the Aquifer project approved under the fourth INTERREG SUDOE call for proposals.

This Community, within the framework of this project, has designed recharge basins in Molins de Rei for the recharge of the Baix Llobregat aquifer and therefore, during the year 202, has drawn up a construction project, has applied for the relevant permits for the authorisation of the works in the public hydraulic domain (Catalan Water Agency), the works permit began in May and was completed in December.
In November, taking advantage of some rainfall and a flood in the river, a recharge test was carried out to obtain data and it was concluded that the intake level of the catchment had to be lowered by 30 cm to increase the number of operating days.

This lowering implies going from operating 20% of the time (only for river floods) to 70% of the time (medium to high floods and flows).
Lowering the height even further to achieve a longer operating time does not make sense for low river flows because of the need to respect the maintenance flow of the river.
A small modification to the project has therefore been drafted for them in order to achieve this new lowering of the head. Authorisation for this modification is currently awaited from the Catalan Water Agency.

On 4 November, a visit to the recharge basins was carried out by all the partners of the AQUIFER project in order to present the work and its progress. The comments of the partners provided ideas and suggestions for the improvement of the operation.

Success stories in groundwater management

Compilation of groundwater management success stories completed.

Throughout April, the 30 cases of innovative practices in groundwater management have already been selected by the clusters participating in the project: PPA, CWP and AV. The task started with the information that was collected through the dissemination of a survey to a database of relevant actors previously identified in Spain, France and Portugal. The information was structured and the final selection was made with the support of experts from three institutions outside the project. The final compilation of cases includes a total of 22 countries and covers a wide range of cases that include examples of initiatives related to the improvement of the governance of groundwater use, the development of new innovative tools to facilitate its management, the implementation of instruments to improve data collection and initiatives to ensure groundwater quality and quantity. The selected cases will be compiled in an eBook of good practices that will be prepared by the end of 2022 in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French and will be distributed to the relevant actors of the sector in the SUDOE territory and internationally.

CUADLL presents the project at a groundwater event organised by the CWP in Barcelona

On 5 April, the CWP organised in Barcelona, in collaboration with IDAEA-CSIC, an event focusing on innovation applied to groundwater management. The conference brought together experts in groundwater management working from various approaches such as research, irrigation communities, administration, consultancy or business. The event opened with a panel discussion where the most current challenges and trends in groundwater issues and management were discussed. The second part of the event consisted of a series of presentations by various researchers and experts. Vinyet Solà, from CUADLL presented the AQUIFER project, its objectives and expected results. His presentation focused on the artificial aquifer recharge initiative that is being carried out in the Llobregat River as part of the project tasks. The characteristics of the study area were detailed, the conclusions of the previous geophysical and geotechnical studies carried out in the Llobregat riverbed were presented and the monitoring system of the piezometric levels of the recharge point was announced. Vinyet’s intervention ended with the presentation of a proposal for the extension of the recharge area in which work is being carried out.

Boreholes and equipment for monitoring groundwater level, temperature and conductivity

Four boreholes were drilled in the alluvial aquifers of the Garonne, Tarn and Aveyron rivers in the Tarn-et-Garonne department (France) in March 2022. These new wells, as well as 4 existing wells, have been equipped with OTT Ecolog 800 probes in order to monitor the level of the alluvial aquifer, its temperature and its conductivity at hourly intervals. These data are transmitted in real time to a user portal allowing the operator to visualise the data. The chronicles acquired in this way will allow a better understanding of the functioning of the aquifer and to improve its management, in particular via modelling work allowing predictive simulations to be carried out, in order to anticipate certain potentially problematic situations, to answer specific questions from resource managers, etc. In order to be able to simulate the seasonal and inter-annual variability of piezometry, it is necessary to have several years of monitoring (generally 10 to 15 years). Therefore, within the framework of the SUDOE AQUIFER project, these newly acquired chronicles will be used to improve the hydrodynamic model available on the alluvial plain of the Tarn-et-Garonne department, in addition to other, longer chronicles acquired within the framework of previous studies. The model will then be used to carry out simulations aimed at predicting, in the spring or at the beginning of the summer, the water levels at the end of the low-water period, as well as the volumes available for agricultural abstractions during the summer period.

Participation of AQUIFER partners in the International Groundwater Congress

Three AQUIFER partners participated in the international conference Groundwater, Key to Sustainable Development Goals ( organised by various international and French associations related to groundwater management and held in Paris, from 18 to 20 May BRGM, CUADLL and IGME were present, represented respectively by Sandra Beranger, Vinyet Solà and José Luis García Aróstegui. The conference activities included presentations related to R&D applied to the groundwater sector, conferences of relevant actors and stakeholders in the field, and round tables to promote discussion and exchange of ideas in the groundwater field. At this conference, BRGM presented its results on groundwater level forecasting in south-west France. In addition, CUADLL presented its initiative for an artificial recharge system through the environmental adaptation of the Llobregat riverbed. Finally, IGME reflected on the lesson learned from the case of the Campo de Cartagena Mar Menor coastal aquifer, in the round table “Can (and how) to develop irrigation from renewable groundwater”.The participation of the AQUIFER partners in this conference was a good opportunity to communicate the objectives of the project, the first and expected results and how this initiative will provide tools to highlight the important role played by groundwater, especially in arid and semi-arid areas.