Managing the effects of multiple stressors on aquatic ecosystems under water scarcity
Water is one of the most essential natural resources for living beings in our planet. Freshwaters are under threat of various stressors (e.g. chemical pollution, geomorphological alterations and variable hydrological conditions). The 5-year 7th FW funded GLOBAQUA project, was successfully completed in February 2019. It aimed to investigate 6 river basins: Ebro, Adige, Sava, Evrotas, Anglian and Souss Massa, where the water scarcity is a present or potential issue. To understand the relationships between the stressors and to improve water management practices, it was essential to identify the chemical stressors involved and link them to other stressors, which may have potential synergistic effects on the ecological status of the river ecosystems studied.
The Department of Environmental Sciences was actively involved in GLOBAQUA project.
Regarding chemical stressors the main findings were:
The main management recommendations were:
• Measures should be taken to prevent contamination of the riparian soil by agricultural and industrial activities.
• Due to elevated mercury and dioxin-like substances concentrations, human consumption of big and predator fish in the lower Sava stretch should be reduced to a minimum.
• More wastewater treatment plants should be built in the touristic (skiing resorts) to reduce the burden of pharmaceuticals in the Adige river basin.
• Ecological agriculture is recommended in order to reduce the input of herbicides and insecticides into the waters of the Evrotas River.
Due to the large mobilization of organophosphorous flame retardants polychlorinated biphenyls from static river bed sediments of the Cinca River (Ebro's tributary) during flooding conditions, monitoring of the suspended particulate material during extreme flood events is recommended to evaluate the potential risk to aquatic ecosystems, downstream of the polluted river stretch.
From the work performed, the researchers from the Department of Environmental Sciences published 22 articles in which GALOBAQUa project was acknowledged.