Implementing the Water Framework Directive to temporary rivers

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Welcome to TRivers!

LIFE TRivers studies the hydrology and ecology of temporary rivers and aims at creating new tools to improve their management according to the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). The project will contribute to the conservation and restoration of one of the most common river typologies in the Mediterranean Basin, which contains most of Europe´s threatened freshwater biodiversity.

RiuCiurana Fauna2 TubAlgars

Temporary rivers are one of the most common types of freshwater ecosystems in the Mediterranean Basin. Picture: N. Prat.

Temporary rivers contain highly diverse biological communities adapted to harsh hydrological conditions. Picture: N.Bonada.

Water abstraction is one of the major impacts on temporary rivers in the Mediterranean region. Picture: N. Cid.

Countdown to the participation process on the protection of temporary rivers


The Catalan Water Agency (ACA) hosted last week a meeting of the TRivers project. The aim of the meeting was to plan the participation process that aims at gathering measures for the conservation and restoration of temporary rivers. Representatives from the University of Barcelona (UB), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), ACA, the New Water Culture Foundation (FNCA) and the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation agreed on the actions to be taken during the next months. The new features of the citizen science app RiuNeT to be used in the participation process were also shared at the meeting.

Reaching a consensus on priority measures
The citizen participation process will set up several workshops at different places of the Catalan River Basin District, and of the Júcar and Ebro River Basin Districts. In the workshops, researchers and citizens will discuss on those priority measures needed for the conservation and restoration of the ecological status of the studied water bodies. "This is a way for people to give their opinion on priority measures, but it also allows water managers to have more information for making better decisions", said Narcís Prat.

proces de participacio

At the meeting, Iraima Verkaik (UB), Laura Sánchez and Alba Ballester (FNCA) coordinated a workshop with scientists, managers and representatives of the administration attending the workshop. "The workshop's aim was to establish the schedule, tools and the disseminations actions of this initiative. The participation process will raise awareness of the temporary rivers and the importance of citizens' participation in the management of these ecosystems," said Iraima Verkaik.

procés de participació 2 peq

New features of RiuNeT
RiuNeT will be used as an engagement tool in the citizen participation process. This citizen project - recently awarded with the Environment Prize 2017 of the Generalitat of Catalonia -, guides citizens to assess the ecological status of rivers. The new hydrological features of this app were also explained in the meeting, which includes aquatic phase surveillance, classification of the river hydrological regime and the detection of hydrological impacts of all rivers. RiuNet app will still include the assessment of the ecological quality, including temporary rivers. A new section will also give the possibility to gather information on the river ecosystem services valued by the citizen. This new version of the app will be available in the following months to all citizens and certainly before the first meeting with participants.

Visualization temporality of temporary rivers
Most recent results of the project were also shared during the workshop. Francesc Gallart (CSIC) highlighted the development of a diagram that contributed to a better interpretation of a temporary river's regime. The diagram has been included in the TREHS software, developed by TRivers. "This tool visualizes the degree of temporariness of rivers from the point of view of the river's ecological attributes," said Gallart. According to Narcís Prat, "this tool classifies the intermittent rivers from the point of view of the indicators that are necessary to assess ecological status".

Finally, Núria Cid (UB) reviewed the latest TRivers research on fish and macroinvertebrates communities. The challenge now is to study whether these communities respond differently to natural disturbances (natural temporal rivers) than to human activities (temporary rivers due to water abstraction).

The 2017 Environment Prize of the Government of Catalonia to RiuNeT app


RiuNeT, an app to evaluate the ecological status with the people's collaboration, conducted by the Research Group Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM), led by coordinator of TRivers project Narcís Prat, has been honoured with the Environment Prize of the Government of Catalonia in the category of best initiative. TRivers financed the hydrologic part of the app. The awards for innovative environmental projects on citizen science, were given on Tuesday, June 6, on the occasion of the World Environment Day. This year, the Environment Prize of the Government of Catalonia honoured the task of four research groups, two associations and the environmental consultant Francesc Giró.

RiuNeT: an app to discover the status of rivers

Using a phone with camera, internet connection and a geographic positioning system, the app RiuNeT can assess the ecological quality of a river trace following the guidelines of the Water Framework Directive. The final objective is for the observer to collect these indicators and send the results to the researchers. Once they are analysed, they will be available to all water managers and other people who are interested in it. Thus, the jury gave this award "for having brought people closer to rivers and involve them in the assessment of their ecological state, with scientific rigour and experts' tutoring, but in a dynamic and simple way, with a phone app that guides the participant through a protocol of environmental diagnosis to determine the health status of a river".

Among the new features of RiuNeT, the app will be used in the participation procces leaded by TRivers. The aim of the process will be to involve citizens and stakeholders in order to gather measures for the conservation and restoration of the ecological status of the studied water bodies, in the internal basins of Catalonia, the basins in Júcar River and Ebro.

A citizens science project
RiuNeT is integrated in the research lines of the Citizen Science Office, an initiative launched by the Direction of Creativity and Innovation of the Culture Institute of Barcelona (ICUB) in which several research groups look for citizen participation in scientific research with collective experiments, according to the Horizon 2020 guidelines. The app RiuNeT has been developed with the collaboration of the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i) of the Communication Area of the UB and the funding of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) – Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The company Fusta has been in charge of the creation of this app. It has also received a financial aid from RecerCaixa to finance the server and necessary maintenance to receive and manage data sent by the users.

Download the app RiuNeT.
Promotional video.
RiuNeT website.