The REC is implementing the project “Sustainable Use of Transboundary Water Resources and Water Security Management” (WATER SUM) with funding from the Swedish Government. As part of the WATER POrT (Water Resources Management Good Practices and Knowledge Transfer) project component (specifically Action A1.2, an activity cluster dedicated to water resources protection), the project team organised a study visit to Spain that took place on December 12-16, 2016, in order to provide participants with opportunities to investigate and discuss issues related to monitoring water quality and quantity.
The study visit combined hands-on work with discussions about the linked benefits of environmental monitoring of water resources. Participants also engaged in inter-institutional and inter-sectoral dialogue on issues related to monitoring and water management.
The event brought together more than 20 young water professionals and representatives of national water authorities from Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia whose work involves monitoring and data processing on a regular basis. Throughout the week the participants met with several Spanish national and regional authorities, including: the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment; the Tajo River Basin Confederation; and the Canal Isabel II Water Company. During each visit the participants had the chance to meet with professionals and experts in charge of a broad range of actions linked to water monitoring, including network monitoring, water sampling and analysis, and data processing.
On the fourth day of the study visit, the participants travelled to Valencia to visit the Acequia Real del Jucar, a community-operated watercourse used for irrigation purposes. Since the 13th century, the Acequia Real del Jucar has been ensuring a fair, orderly and sustainable distribution of the Jucar River’s water for irrigation purposes to the Valencian community. Nowadays, it serves more than 25,000 land users in 20 municipalities and provides stimulus for the community's agricultural economy.
The increasingly extreme climatic conditions that Spain is experiencing, especially in its southern territories, are progressively straining available water resources. The participants highlighted similarities between the Spanish situation and situations both in their home countries and across a significant swath of the MENA region. At the same time, the participants also identified several benefits and best practices that could be replicated in their countries, such as: enhancing automated control of crucial water facilities to rationalise the use of water resources; installing real-time monitoring equipment and sharing data across water supply systems, reservoirs and wastewater treatment plants; and nurturing horizontal collaboration and coordination between different institutions involved in integrated water resources management.
The outcomes of the study visit will be integrated into forthcoming activities and deliverables of WATER POrT project component Action A1.2. These will include tailored trainings on water monitoring at demonstration sites in Tunisia and Jordan, as well as fine-tuning a guidance document for water monitoring techniques applicable in the MENA region and a protocol for data processing and exchange of hydrological, meteorological and water quality data.