Project title: BLUE-GREENWAY: Innovative solutions for improving the environmental status of eutrophic and anoxic coastal ecosystems

Name of the lead partner organisation: University of Patras

Country of the lead partner organisation: Greece

Project summary:

BLUE-GREENWAY addresses the intertwined common challenges of the sea-land chain by treating the pollution problems of eutrophic and anoxic coastal ecosystems (sea) that result from land-based and other pollution sources and by focusing on green procurement of products and services in wastewater management (land). 

The problem

Eutrophication has become the primary water quality issue for most freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems in the world. It is a most visible example of biosphere’s alteration, and is due to human activities affecting aquatic ecosystems from the Arctic to the Antarctic. As more eutrophic ecosystems face difficulties meeting the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) criteria, the removal of phosphate and ammonium gains high importance in water treatment. In parallel, the prevention of polluting land output into the water environment is critical for making possible a global approach to the problem.

The objective

The objective of this project is to review the restoration methods of eutrophic ecosystems, emphasizing remediation of internal nutrient release budget as a major factor to control eutrophication. The use of phosphate inactivation agents as a restoration tool, their capacity and application methods, will be examined. 

Moreover, a combined land-water framework will be developed to determine an integrated remediation technique for addressing eutrophication management. The chemical lake restoration methods are not a panacea and should include targeted land-based capacity management as part of an integrated management plan. 

The work

The BLUE-GREENWAY Project, funded by the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation, aims to provide i) best practices for water bodies restoration from eutrophication and ii) capacity management co-creative techniques to combat eutrophication resulting anoxia at the origin.  

In particular, agricultural runoff and municipal sewage are the key factors for excessive nutrient loading to aquatic ecosystems. During the project, innovative materials will be used to absorb phosphorus and nitrogen loads in two pilot cases, Aitoliko Lagoon in Greece and Liopetri in Cyprus. The methodology will include an autonomous monitoring platform equipped with sensors to frequently assess water body quality. Hydrodynamic models will determine the stressors that result in eutrophic ecosystems producing anoxia. A range of scenarios will be evaluated to restore oxygen of the water column. 

In addition, innovative management will be used to increase the capacity of land users in refraining from using water polluting materials. In particular, the project will actively involve a broad set of stakeholders and end-users. The project’s success is based on the general public’s engaged interaction, who will be asked to provide input for exemplary methods/tools previously tested in other applications. Environmental and procurement experts will participate via advisory/evaluation committees and educational/training events. The integration of modern technologies for the benefit of end-users, is expected to help advance the agricultural sector by informing stakeholders on fertilizers best practices according to the current state of the water body they influence. 

In the long run

BLUE-GREENWAY practices are designed to build community resilience and reduce disaster risk, resulting in a sustainable and cost-effective integrated treatment. The consortium will support areas (Aitoliko-Messolonghi area and Ammochostos district) to gain knowledge on best practices, and exchange good practices with regions outside the territory, in order for more regions to benefit and disseminate the project results. Further, the project aims to apply innovative materials and propose methods that will contribute to circular economy practices.

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