CNR-IRSA activities related to INHABIT

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Home Main projects BSL – HMWB


The BSL- HMWB project was carried out by CNR-IRSA in agreement with ARPA Veneto (Veneto Region Environment Agency) as a part of the wider project “BSL 3 – Attività di monitoraggio dei corpi idrici nel Bacino Scolante nella Laguna di Venezia, finalizzate all’implementazione della Direttiva 2000/60/CE”.  The project was funded by Veneto Region through the ‘Special Law for Venice’. The agreement was focused on the study of the heavily modified water bodies (HMWB) in order to achieve a first definition of the maximum ecological potential (MEP) and good ecological potential (GEP) based on macroinvertebrate community. At the same time, the project aimed at providing a baseline study for the identification and verification of feasible, practical and effective management measures, that, while respecting the constraints imposed by the HMWB status, would bring benefits to the aquatic biocoenoses and contribute to the achievement of quality objectives.
In order to carry out the activity, an elaboration system was set up in the context of an agricultural/urbanized lowland watershed in the Veneto region, but that could be extended and enhanced to be proposed on national scale. The heavily modified water bodies were then characterized and classified on the basis of the main elements used for their identification,  in both management and ecological context: 1. the specified use, that defines HMWB and constrains the potential for intervention and recovery, and 2. the main hydro-morphological alterations that directly affect river ecosystems.
The work was carried out in parallel with the INHABIT project between 2012 and 2013. It was based on ARPA Veneto data and supplemented with samples from other similar regions (Piedmont, Lombardy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia) for a total of 208 samples examined and processed. For the definition of the ecological potential the CIS approach has been selected: such approach involves the use of HMWB ‘control sites’ similarly to the reference sites of natural water bodies. The values of MEP, from which GEP values were derived, were then defined as the median value of the metrics calculated on control sites samples. Data analysis showed that metrics for the classification of macroinvertebrates already used for natural water bodies are also effective in representing the gradient of anthropogenic stress in the lowland heavily modified water bodies. The study thus established that STAR_ICMi clearly expresses the range of the ecological quality of HMWB and is suitable for classification without any need for readjustments.The best physical variables correlated with macrobenthic communities were identified: they could be set as reference for defining sound and verifiable management measures and environmental restoration actions, compatible with the HMWB uses (i.e. riparian zone, non-artificial earth banks, embankments not leaning on the riverbed with maintenance of flood plain areas, recovery of "natural" land uses in the range of 50 m riparian buffer).

Images show a general view of two of the investigates water bodies.