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Detection and Integrated Assessment of Non-authorised water Abstractions using EO

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - DIANA (Detection and Integrated Assessment of Non-authorised water Abstractions using EO)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Water scarcity and droughts, make the need for a sustainable and integrated approach to managing water resources in Europe, more obvious than ever. Agriculture is a significant user of that water, predominantly for irrigation purposes, aiming to enhance the yield and quality of crops, reduce risks of crop failures, due to dry periods, and stabilise yields. More specifically, agriculture accounts for approximately a quarter of the 182 billion m³ of water extracted every year in Europe. At the same time, irrigation is also a major cause of non-authorised water (over-) abstraction, or in other words the abstraction of larger volumes of water than officially permitted and/or sustainably available. Combined with a string of record-breaking temperatures - especially in the last few years-, which led to a punishing drought that is shrivelling harvests and water shortages, the need for solutions that can help in serving the above mentioned needs, is urgent.

In this context, DIANA, a commercial service platform, was co-created and co-designed along with water management authorities. The involvement of the users of the service platform ensured that they have at their disposal a “customized”, powerful tool, to support them in their efforts to optimise the identification and inspection of non-authorised water abstractions for irrigation. Along with the use of drought service that can be used to forecast extreme conditions, DIANA significantly improves the monitoring and assessment of water management policies and practices.
During the 1st year of the project all the groundwork that concerned DIANA service platform was laid down. As indicated in the 1st technical report users’ and stakeholders’ requirements were identified and analysed. The development of EO products and services took place and more specifically the methodology for mapping irrigated areas and the respective process chain. Furthermore, the architecture of the platform was described and the pilot deployment and co-evaluation plan was also introduced. Finally, effort was dedicated for setting the innovation and intellectual property rights strategy, while the business models that are considered as viable options were also recognized and selected from the partners.

Building upon that work, in the 2nd year of the project, the effort was focused towards the development of the service platform. The technical team brought together the input from other WPs, in order to develop the 1st version of the platform. In parallel with the work that was carried out for the implementation of the services, effort was also allocated in the pilots. The efforts in the 2nd year were concentrated on the co-valuation and validation of the results, as provided via the platform. At the same time the first round of validation of the business models, and in general the work carried out by the business team, was another important parameter that complemented the activities of the 2nd year. Communication was constant with partners across all WPs promoting DIANA and the first available results through different channels.

Most of the effort in the 3rd year of the project was assigned towards the pilots and the business plan, with the rest of the activities complementing the work done within those. The co-evaluation and co-validation of the results provided by the services of DIANA platform, was one of the main objectives in that last period of the project, since they would be the stepping stone for the launch of DIANA to the market. Having at their disposal a beta version of the platform that was shaped based on their feedback, pilots were able to attract even more stakeholders and users for that final round of evaluation. In order to achieve that boost in participation, many regional events were organized, to bring the different stakeholders together, which also provided a great opportunity for disseminating the project to targeted audiences and for building DIANAs’ customer base. This resulted from the parallel engagement of stakeholders and users, during the above mentioned events, for the evaluation of the results of the services, as provided by DIANA platform, as well as the validation of business model, pricing scheme and market uptake. That validation from users and stakeholders came as the succession of an initial validation by members of the core and wider Advisory Board members.

The activities for the pilots and business plan were complemented by other actions. The validation of the EO products with ground truth data was one such activity. An important advance that was made concerned the development of an innovative technique to detect irrigated tree crop and a method to estimate the crop water requirement under deficit condition. The deployment of the beta and final versions of the platform, were also implemented in that 3rd year. Pilot users initially and additional users later on provided their feedback and shaped the final version of the platform, ensuring the adoption after its’ commercial launch. An additional complementary activity that was an important piece of DIANA was the legal and institutional requirements and the briefs for policy makers and water managers, which are key elements for an enabling environment for the market uptake of the commercial service platform.

Finally, for all the above activities there were two common denominators: dissemination and management. Apart from the dissemination throughout the website, social media, participation in events organized by third parties and other such, DIANA partners organized various stakeholders and users events for the targeted promotion of DIANA platform, while all those happened under the coordinated efforts of the managing team.
In summary, two new results have been achieved as far as the progress beyond the state-of-the-art of the methodologies are concerned: an innovative technique to detect irrigated tree crop and a method to estimate the crop water requirement under deficit condition. The solution has been developed in the Italy pilot area and the results have been transferred also to the Spanish pilot.
On the other hand, the contribution of DIANA to other substantial environmental, social and economic impacts, are concisely described below:
The non-authorised water abstraction detection and monitoring service will contribute towards alleviating the adverse environmental impacts associated with (illegal) irrigation, as well as towards conserving water resources. The seasonal drought forecasting and monitoring service is expected to bring substantial environmental benefits in terms of better managing water resources during droughts, protecting water basins and their ecosystems. Finally, the DIANA service aimed at supporting the implementation and monitoring of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) will help safeguard the quality and quantity of European water resources.
Furthermore, the improvement of the management of water resources through DIANA is expected to demonstrate that public authorities handle the financial resources of their citizens (including water fees) with probity and in the interest of the society and environment.
Finally, DIANA will optimise the resources required for monitoring non-authorised abstractions of irrigation water. Water managers will be able to exploit our services to better guide their field inspections and develop mission roadmaps for their field technicians targeted at the most suspicious plots.