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Sustainable Irrigation water management and River-basin governance:
Implementing User-driven Services

Final Report Summary - SIRIUS (Sustainable Irrigation water management and River-basin governance: Implementing User-driven Services)

Executive Summary:

This document provides an overview of the main elements that determine the sustainable implementation of SIRIUS services beyond the project lifetime and beyond the pilot areas.

SIRIUS has followed a twofold mission strategy. On one hand, it has sought from the very beginning to develop tools and services of pan-European policy relevance, with the aim to provide a GMES Service for agricultural water management. On the other hand, it has continued work on the ground (initiated in previous projects) to provide decision support for water managers in irrigation user associations, river-basin organizations, and at farm level. The vision of the SIRIUS service environment goes beyond the merely technical definition, well aware that any technical system needs an enabling environment for implementation to be successful.

The SIRIUS Irrigation Water Management Service (IWMS) addresses water managers mainly at irrigation scheme level (main focus of the project), but also at river-basin up to national level (uplink). Its central purpose is exploitation planning, monitoring, and control. The SIRIUS Integrated Drought Management Service (IDMS) addresses water managers at regional or river-basin level and National Irrigation Plan Monitoring Offices. It provides decision-support in a multi-annual process, based on an EO-assisted spatially distributed water balance and coupling with a river-basin decision support system. The SIRIUS Integrated Farm Advisory Service (IFAS) addresses water managers at farm level. Its central purpose is irrigation advisory (near-real-time irrigation scheduling, irrigation efficiency monitoring, precision farming support). The technical core of all SIRIUS Services is the webGIS SPIDER (System of Participatory Information, Decision-support, and Expert knowledge for River-basin management), powered by EO imagery, non-EO data, and multi-media. Its intuitive ease of use makes it a powerful tool for stakeholder participation, collaboration and transparent governance.

The implementation of the SIRIUS services in eight pilot areas on four continents was effected through pilot campaigns during at least one growing season in each pilot area. The implementation has been prepared and accompanied by an intensive participatory process of collaboration with Core Users and active involvement of further stakeholders. In parallel, the key aspects of sustainable water management in pilot areas have been assessed.
The SIRIUS legacy is based on two pillars: Firstly, a set of business cases responding to the requirements of local and regional users on the ground. The degree of maturity of these cases is directly correlated to the length of prior involvement in and/or exposure to services similar to SIRIUS. Secondly, a conceptual design of a pan-European GMES/Copernicus service for agricultural water management, addressing both the nation-wide and the river-basin scale. Both the business cases and the pan-European service concept are firmly grounded in the demonstrated operative capacity of the SIRIUS Service Providers (covering a synergy of centralized basic production and local advanced production and user support). They are equally grounded in the local and regional user communities that have been created and strengthened during the participatory development and service validation process.
The foundation of the SIRIUS services is an integrated package around SPIDER as the central hub that connects the Earth observation (EO) and non-EO input data and production line with the participatory stakeholder process and the sustainability analysis toolset. A key feature of the technical level is the multi-sensor multi-temporal sequence of EO coverages that provide the users with maps of irrigated areas, irrigation water consumption/abstraction, crop water requirements, and further advanced products.
One major outcome of the SIRIUS process is a joint ownership of SIRIUS services among users and other stakeholders in all pilot areas. They all have contributed to the development and implementation of the services and are now in conditions to reap the benefits that give them tools for collaborative sharing of information, joint decision-making, transparcence in governance and a general sense of empowerment of the user community.
In most pilot areas users have confirmed their readiness to pay for SIRIUS services and regional/national authorities have indicated support for the potential extension of SIRIUS service implementation to larger areas.

Project Context and Objectives:
Water is a critical issue worldwide and water conflicts are arising in many regions, with available resources diminishing in quantity and quality and the range of uses in competing sectors increasing. Periodic droughts and floods exacerbate conflicts and reveal the increasing vulnerability of water uses. Water for food production represents by far the largest share among all uses, but water demand is still growing with increasing population, especially in non-industrialized countries where it is the very basis of subsistence for large parts of the population. Lack of water can adversely affect the economic and social stability of entire regions.

SIRIUS has developed and implemented services for efficient water resource management in support of food production in water-scarce environments. It has addressed water governance and management in accordance with the vision of bridging and integrating sustainable development and economic competitiveness.

The project has developed new services for water managers and food producers, including maps detailing irrigation water requirements in different areas, crop water consumption estimates, and a range of additional information products in support of sustainable irrigation water use and management under conditions of water scarcity and drought.

Applying an integrated approach based on public participatory geographic information systems (ppgis) and a framework for sustanability in agricultural areas, SIRIUS has developed a GMES service that takes into account the interrelated economic, environmental, technical, social and political dimensions of the food-water challenge.

A set of pilot Case Studies represents a sample of the wide range of conditions found in the world, covering Spain, Italy, Romania, Turkey, Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, and India.

See Final Report pdf document
Project Results:

SIRIUS has developed and implemented satellite-assisted services for efficient water resources management in support of food production in water-scarce environments. This includes tools and intruments for effective water resources governance.

See Final Report pdf document

Potential Impact:
Both the SIRIUS business cases and the proposed GMES/Copernicus pan-European water management service clearly demonstrate the impact of the project and provide roadmaps for further use.

SIRIUS has introduced new technologies as tools and services to assist in irrigation water management to prevent or resolve conflict, offering the information to a wide range of stakeholders at their required space-time resolution in non-academic, non-technical, easy-to-use and intuitive form that encourages participation.
Working directly with key users and the relevant government organisations, including active stakeholder participation and gender mainstreaming, increases the chances for successful implementation in policy and practice.

Use of the information and knowledge generated by the project will be to some extent for further research, but mainly for exploitation. The main exploitable project result is the System of Participatory Information, Decision support, and Expert knowledge for irrigation and River basin water management (SPIDER) and the SIRIUS services provided around it. These are the SIRIUS Integrated Irrigation Water Management Service (IWMS), the SIRIUS Integrated Drought Management Service (IDMS), and the SIRIUS Integrated Farm Advisory Service (IFAS).

The development of SPIDER and the SIRIUS Services in each pilot area has been driven by the needs and perceptions of the users. At all project stages, it has been a joint venture of the project team composed of selected key stakeholders, information service providers, and research groups. An operational version of at least one SIRIUS Service has been implemented in most pilot areas and a clear roadmap for sustainable implementation beyond the project lifetime and areas has been developed for all pilot areas. This roadmap combines the further development of business cases and SIRIUS services with the identification of main actions needed to improve sustainability of the pilot area in a broader context.

See Final Report pdf document

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