Med-Hycos - the Project
The Mediterranean Hydrological Cycle Observing System
Web Site MED-HYCOS http://medhycos.com
DCP | Budget
Future of the Programme Med-Hycos
How to Improve the Project by Developing Information System
by Prof. Zoran Radic
To reconcile the need for good-quality freshwater with environmental protection is one of the greatest challenges humanity will be facing in the 21st century. The most obvious way to success is through improving water management. The Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992) chapter 18 on freshwater and the report of the International Conference on Water and the Environment (ICWE, 1992) on which it was based, recognise that knowledge of the water cycle (quantity and quality) is the essential basis for efficient water management.
Water assessment, monitoring and management is dependant on the existence of reliable water resources information systems both at national and regional levels, covering not only the collection and analysis of data but also the exchange and dissemination of these data and related information and knowledge to the users, ranking from the general public to decision makers.
However, Chapter 18, the ICWE report, the WMO/UNESCO report on water resources assessment (1991), the Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World (1998) , as well as a number of recent international Conferences, such as the Paris Conference (19 – 21 March 1998) stress that, in many regions of the world, these information systems are not functioning adequately or do not exist at all.
Main reasons for that situation are :
The nineteenth Special session of the UN General Assembly calls for highest priority to be given to the serious fresh-water problems facing many regions and pointed out that there is an urgent need :
Accordingly, the report of the Sixth Session of the commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), (22 December1997 and 20 April to 1 May 1998), urges Governments to address the numerous gaps identified in the path towards integrated water resources development, management, protection and use notably by giving further attention to hydrology and to the capacity to assess the availability and variability of water resources. Moreover, CSD encourages Governments to notably:
CSD also calls upon the international community, including the United Nations system to support national efforts in information and data collection and dissemination through co-ordinated and differentiated action.
The European Union made important contributions to the international debate for new initiatives and recently the European Commission developed Guidelines for water resources development co-operation which centrepiece is "a strategic approach for the equitable, efficient and sustainable management of water resources". Further in the light of the 5th Framework programme emphasis has been placed on research activites that should contribute to a number of key policy and legislative actions of the European Union as well as providing objective and timely scientific information to EU Institutes and Member Countries. Specifically activites should contribute to the Commissions new Key Action on "Sustainable management and quality of water" within the 5th Framework Specific Programme "Preserving the ecosystem" by identifying problems and making recommendations to the 6th Framework Programme.
In this context of water crisis, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) launched in 1993 the World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS). The WHYCOS initiative is aimed at providing a scientific basis and a framework for co-operation in water resources monitoring, assessment and integrated water resources development and management at community, river basin, national, regional continental and global levels. It will contribute to knowledge of hydrological processes in their interaction with climate and the environment, and will encourage intersectoral sharing of water resources data and information for development and natural capital management.
WHYCOS is being implemented through regional operational components (HYCOSs) tailored to respond to the priority established by the participating countries themselves. MED-HYCOS is being implemented in the Mediterranean Sea basin.
Consistent with Agenda 21, chapter 18 and the report of ICWE, the Mediterranean Conference in Barcelona (November, 1995) identified water management as a vital issue, which deserves special attention in the European MEDA action plan.
Moreover, the European Union gave high priority to the sustainable development and protection of the coastal zones, which are more and more impacted by the uses made of all major European watersheds through the quantity and the quality of the waters flowing to these zones. The aim of monitoring the long-term changes in these very important zones is to advise the Member countries of the European Union on protection of these zones from high levels of pollution coming from the watersheds.
Under the recently adopted 5th Framework Plan (FP) of the European Commission (EC), which covers the period 1999-2002, the Environment Institute (EI) of the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC), ISPRA, Italy, has been asked to set-up a "Laboratoire Européen pour la Protection des Eaux" (LEPE) which would notably address the problem of pollution exchange between European River Basins and Coastal Waters. Among the objectives of this project it would contribute to the development of an Observational Network that will provide inter-comparable information sets on a range of agreed environmental indicators at the level of European scale river basins – coastal zones, taking advantage of already existing EU, national or/and regional initiatives. Specifically a project is under active development at the JRC Environment Institution entitled : European Watershed-Coastal Zone Pollution Exchange (EW-CZPE)
The objective of EW-CZPE is to study, at selected European watershed-coastal zone scales, processes that lead selected pollution events in European waters. The rationale behind the proposal is that pollution of coastal waters results from the combined effects of land use activities within the terrestrial drainage network, and retention/elimination processes of pollutants during their transfer along the aquatic continuum (river channels, buffer strips, reservoirs, soils, ground-water recharge zones, wetlands, estuaries). A successful management of coastal waters requires, therefore, an ecosystem approach assessing the interrelated nature of water quality and quantity in relation to dominating human activities in the upland drainage basin. The Mediterranean region has been identified as one of the regions of special interest to the programme.
Since the 5th FP would have two main geographical areas of interest regarding international co-operation, namely the countries of Central Europe and the Mediterranean regions both WMO and IE recognized that there is a clear synergy between the WMO project and the plans of the Institute concerning the monitoring of pollution fluxes from rivers flowing to Mediterranean and Black Seas coastal zones and that a common project should be developed and jointly presented to the EC.
The conception and the implementation of the Observatory for water resources assessment in the mediterranean area must contribute to understand the dynamic of hydrosystems, to assess the environmental or human impacts on water resources and to optimize management strategies. Water resources assessment in natural and socio-economical environments which develop rapidly requires to develop efficient information systems.
To carry out a regional water information system, it is necessary :
Within this prospect, the MED-HYCOS programme (Mediterranean Hydrological Cycle Observing System) aims :
MED-HYCOS is the first regional component of WHYCOS programme (World HYdrological Cycle Observing System) initiated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The World Bank financed the MED-HYCOS project in its initial phase (1995-2000) up to 1.7 M US $.
The 25 participating countries in MED-HYCOS are Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Spain, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Former Yugoslavian Republic (FYR) of Macedonia, Malta, Moldavia, Morocco, Portugal, Palestinian Authority, Romania, Slovenia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and Yugoslavia. At the beginning of the project, in 1995, the countries governments and WMO signed up a project document.
The Pilot Regional Centre which co-ordinates the MED-HYCOS programme is hosted by IRD-Montpellier (Institut of Research for Development) since 1995. The Pilot Regional Centre manages the activities under the control of the Initial Co-ordinating Group (ICG).
The Initial Co-ordinating Group is made up of representatives from the following countries and organisations:
The results obtained during the initial phase of the project MED-HYCOS (1995-2000) might be presented according to the objectives previously mentioned.
The component "Data Collecting Platforms Network (DCPN )"
The Data Collecting Platforms(DCP's) were installed in the twelve following countries : Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Italy, Jordan, FYR Macedonia, Malta, Morocco, Slovenia, Tunisia and Turkey. Until the end of the year 2000, thirty five DCP's are planed to operate in these countries as well as in Algeria, Greece, Lebanon, and Palestinian Territories.
Furthermore, this network has been completed by a secondary network of Near Real Time Stations (NRTS), established in Albania, Bulgaria, Spain, France, Slovenia and Romania.
The whole network of about fifty stations, composed by actual DCP's and NRTS, has to be expanded in the future in order to offer a reliable and standard information, which would be usefull to follow the evolution of the water resources in the principal mediterranean basins.
The component "MED-HYCOS Information System(MHIS)"
The Hydrological Information System is composed by a WEB site http://medhycos.com
showing the activities of the project, the partner institutions, informations
on water resources in Mediterranean area, the regional database of around
one hundred hydrological stations and the tools for data collection, organisation,
processing, edition and data dissemination on the Internet.
Cartographic MED-HYCOS stations selection tool
In September 1998, the first version of a CD-ROM was published. In December 1999, 2000 copies of a CD-ROM were distributed free of charge, which provide the MED-HYCOS WEB site, the regional hydrometeorological database and the tools allowing the data consultation and processing.
Home Page of the MED-HYCOS CD-ROM
The MHIS will be progresively improved supplying, through the Internet and CD-ROM, more and more dense information on the water resources in the Mediterranean basin.
The component "Training and Expertise"
Training sessions have been organised with professional staff from all the participating countries in the field of :
To support the installation of DCPs, experts from participating countries have carried out mission to support national technicians in this activities: in particular experts from Croatia, Romania and Slovenia have carried out missions to FYR Macedonia, Jordan and Bosnia Herzegovina respectively.
A guideline on the "acquisition and achievement of baseline hydrological data" has been elaborated by IRD and published with the support of the Technical University of Construction of Bucharest (Romania). A "Hydrometry quality chart - Guide to good practices" has been published with the support of the French Ministry of Environment.
Through a secondment programme 7 experts from various participating countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia) have spent periods up to 24 months in the PRC, participating in the development of the MHIS.
The training sessions have been organised with professionals from partner countries in the field of data acquisition, transmission and dissemination.
Installation of a Hydrometeorological Data Collecting Platform in Croatia
Collaborations with other water related networks
During the first phase, MED-HYCOS has established links with existing programs the Mediterranean area as BLUE PLAN, ARIDE project working on droughts, FRIEND-AMHY (regional hydrological studies), etc. which have already used data collected by MED-HYCOS program.
Furthermore, thanks to the use of new technologies, the data producers participating to the MED-HYCOS program would fulfil better the needs of water managers and research teams for the assessment of the impact of human impact activities on the aquatic environment, for the evaluation of the pollution flows into the Mediterranean Sea, for the management and the protection of water resources, etc.
MED-HYCOS project will identify the capacity of expertise of the Mediterranean partners related to the Centers of the existing resources like EMWIS which is the Euro-Mediterranean Information System on the know-how in the Water sector (SEMIDE in french).
During the second phase of the project, the achievements of the first phase will be consolidated, and be transferred form the regional to the national level.
The main objective of MED-HYCOS Phase II is to further develop, through the strengthening of the National Hydrological Services, the Mediterranean Hydrological Information System and its capacity to provide to a large community of users, region-wide hydrological data and water related thematic products based on the information supplied by national systems and other region-wide management and scientific programmes.
The main focus will be :
The first beneficiaries of the project are the participating National Hydrological Services themselves, which will draw advantages in undertaking their operational and research activities from quicker and easier access to their own data, improved data management practices and up-to-date tools for data analysis and better capabilities to respond to user requirements. At national and regional levels, other beneficiaries will be water managers and policy/decision makers, who will benefit from the synthetic, scientifically sound decision support tools, and user friendly, easily accessible and constantly updated information available from national and regional hydrological information systems. At regional and global levels finally the research community will benefit from the increased availability of data, their better real coverage, and enhanced quality control.
National Hydrological Information Systems
Mediterranean Hydrological Information System (MHIS)
Strengthened capacity in NHSs
The first achievements of the MED-HYCOS programme obtained during the initial phase 1995-2000 is the creation of an international co-operative network between the National Hydrological Services of the 25 partner countries through the implementation of a Data Collecting Platforms network, of a regional data base, of an efficient web site and through the organisation of capacity building activities. Its main objective for the future is to build a Mediterranean Hydrological Information System based on the strengthening of the capabilities of the National Hydrological Services and on the reinforcing of a data collecting network.
The availability of reliable and appropriate hydrological data constitutes actually the first necessary information to preserve and to manage properly water as a resource for human live and activities, and as an essential component that must be taken into account in the balance of ecosystems and natural environment.
Furthermore, all MED-HYCOS partners would fulfil better the needs of the research teams and decision-makers in the fields of the human impact assessment on the aquatic environment, the evaluation of pollution flows in the Mediterranean Sea, the protection and the management of water resources, etc.
MED-HYCOS is the first HYCOS component to be implemented. Relationships are already established with other HYCOS regional components as in West, Central and Austral Africa, Aral basin, Pacific islands, Caribbean region, etc.
In this manner, the MED-HYCOS programme contributes to an effective integrated water resources management in the Mediterranean region and to convey the technologies developed and the skills existing in the Mediterranean countries towards other world regions.