The project’s pilot area is the basin of Sarigiol, a plain in the Western Macedonia Region, under the intendance of Kozani Prefecture. The basin of Sarigiol is of significant interest due to the intensive and combined effects of industrial and agricultural activities. It covers a total area of 469 km2, while approximately 5-10% is occupied by the Western Macedonia Lignite Center (WMLC). The area is bordered by mountains except of the north, where the open pit of the south field lignite mines and partly the tectonic horst of Komanos are located. Here are found some of the most important lignite deposits in the Balkans, producing 65% of Greece’s total electric power. The total arable land occupies approximately 200 km2 and the main crops are soft and hard wheat, maize, barley, sugarbeet, oat, potatoes etc.
Issues and challenges related to the management of Sarigiol basin:
The WLMC with its huge areas of surface lignite mines causes enormous environmental impact on the landscape (e.g. deforestation), the surface water and groundwater (e.g. increased water consumption by the steam-electric plants, groundwater-table decline, river beds shift, 66% water loss of Lake Vegoritis’ volume at the north of the basin, atmospheric pollution, effects on microclimatic conditions etc). On the other hand, the agricultural activities further deteriorate these problems; irrigation increases the water demand, while fertilizers and agricultural chemical compounds are used intensively to maintain the productivity of the soil leading to nitrate pollution. In addition, untreated waste effluent from industrial and livestock units and waste water treatment plant shortage cause further groundwater quality degradation.
Objectives of the water-sensitive area in EU-WATER project
Major objectives include:

  • Capitalization and reorganization of the existing knowledge in the Sarigiol basin;
  • Development of strategy for the integrated water management of the basin;
  • Development of practical actions and mechanisms for introducing new technologies and new production systems in agriculture (e.g. sustainable fertilizing practices, low water consumption technologies for irrigation, etc.); knowledge exchange with project partners.
  • Acquisition of important knowledge regarding agricultural regional planning and land-use management in the Sarigiol basin.
  • Development of agricultural production plans with low environmental-impact according to EU regulations.
  • Encouragement of the active role of local stakeholders towards the ownership of the problems, its solutions and the incoming benefits.

Activities planned in EU-WATER project and results
1. Survey for the land use, environmental and geo-hydrological data as well as the socioeconomic environment and institutional legislation.
2. Data base development and classification for the estimation of socioeconomic indicators and agricultural production coefficients as well as the improvement of knowledge regarding the water and nitrogen management methodologies;
3. Development of optimization models and a DSS to achieve optimum agricultural production plans in the region taking in account the available resources, environmental and geo-hydrological parameters and the vulnerability map of the region and increase the sustainability of region.
4. Exploitation of the EU.WATER results is pursued through local consultation’s sessions and results in a local fiscal/normative package that give continuity and economic sustainability to the management practices experimented in the project.