TRUST - Tool for regional - scale assessment of groundwater storage improvement in adaptation to climate change (TRUST)

LIFE07 ENV/IT/000475

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  

Contact details:

Project Manager: Francesco BARUFFI
Tel: +39 0417 14444
Fax: +39 0417 14313
Email: segreteria@adbve.it

Project description:


The degradation of ground water, in terms of both quantity and quality, is a common problem in many parts of Europe and around the world. Unsustainable use of resources and inappropriate land use policies, added to the impact of climate change, put the emphasis on the need to limit water use and put in place adaptation measures to protect natural resources against drought and water scarcity.


The primary goal of the TRUST project was to demonstrate innovative actions to halt and reverse the slow but ongoing decline of the water table in the Veneto and Friuli Plain. This decline has been going on for 30-40 years. The phenomenon has led to the lowering of the water table in the Upper Plain, and desiccation of numerous wetlands and loss of pressure in aquifers in the Medium Plain. This negative trend is bound to worsen with climate change, which is likely to lead to more intense and frequent droughts. The TRUST project set out to incorporate climate change into river basin management, and identify adaptation measures based on artificial aquifer recharge to mitigate the impacts of drought and water scarcity. The project area includes the Isonzo, Tagliamento, Livenza, Piave and Brenta rivers flowing eastwards, and the far western Bacchiglione river.

Second, the TRUST project aimed to build up the capacity of the coordinating beneficiary to define the objectives and measures for the aquifer recharge in the Veneto and Friuli Upper Plain using excess surface waters (e.g. from floods), and to develop river-basin governance generally. TRUST set out to help the relevant authorities and stakeholders to coordinate the macro-actions for artificial aquifer recharge at river-basin level. TRUST thus aimed to contribute to the implementation of European Union water policy, in particular the Water Framework Directive, Floods Directive and EU policy on water scarcity and droughts.


The TRUST project objective of improving the management of groundwater resources in the Upper Plain of Veneto and Friuli was reached. The project employed advanced technologies to define solutions for ensuring the sustainable water balance in the study area in view of future climate changes. To this end, the project took a number of steps to improve stakeholder involvement in river-basin management.

A Technical Board was established including the key stakeholders concerned with groundwater management and exploitation. Stakeholders’ participation proved fundamental for guaranteeing the consistency of the project activities and achieving the project goals and long term sustainability of the project results. Agreements with stakeholders were signed for the provision of data and the implementation of flow monitoring campaigns and Managed Aquifer Recharge demonstrations.A Web GIS database was implemented with all the data used and produced in the project. The database is accessible from the project website (www.lifetrust.it) and contains hydrological and hydro-geological information, and modelling results. Following the end of TRUST, the project coordinating beneficiary and the stakeholders will use the database for the planning and management of water resources of the Veneto and Friuli regions.

The project also performed simulations of climate change scenarios using the CMCC climate models. This modelling exercise found that in the study area, during the twenty-first century the land temperature could increase by approximately 5°C, especially during the summer season, accompanied by a reduction in rainfall (about ~ 0.5 mm/day towards the end of the century).The forecasted climate change scenarios were used to quantify the water deficits until the end of the twenty-first century for irrigation of summer crops based on remote sensing and GIS-based modelling techniques.

The project also developed an innovative hydrological model to estimate the flows of the rivers that feed the aquifer in the study area and the variations of river flows induced by future climate scenarios. It found that the river flows will increase in the winter and will decrease in the summer, spring and autumn seasons. A groundwater model was developed to analyse the variations in the hydrogeological balance. Additionally the effectiveness of Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) techniques was tested at demonstration sites to verify the effect of different land cover, lithology and irrigation techniques. The modelling simulations showed that by the end of the twenty-first century the annual aquifer recharge could be reduced by 7% in Veneto and by 11% in Friuli.

A Regional Risk Assessment was conducted to determine the areas affected by the risks of water deficit for irrigation and nitrate pollution of groundwater. The tool showed that the impact in water availability for irrigation can be significant: 50% of the agricultural areas at risk fell into the High to Very High risk, mainly concentrated in the Friuli region.

The MAR demonstrations showed the effectiveness of MAR for restoring the aquifer. The application of MAR on an area of 100 hectares could recharge the aquifer with approximately 50 million cubic meters of water and, simultaneously, provide €60 000 from the sale of fast growing plants cultivated in the MAR sites.

More broadly, TRUST demonstrated that modelling and risk assessment tools can aid sustainable planning and management of groundwater resources in compliance with the EU legislative framework. The knowledge and experience gained can be replicated to great effect for integrating climate change into the sustainable planning of groundwater resources in Italy and worldwide.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Water resources protection
Climate change Adaptation - Natural resources and ecosystems


geographic information system‚  water monitoring‚  climate protection‚  groundwater‚  water resources management

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Autorità di bacino dei fiumi Isonzo, Tagliamento, Livenza, Piave, Brenta-Bacchiglione (Authority of the Brenta, Bacchiglione, Piave, Livenza, Tagliamento and Isonzo Rivers Basins)
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The River Basin Authority Alto Adriatico was established in 1989 as a mixed public body with regional and national statutory powers, and responsibility for the development and implementation of river basin management plans that lay down policies and measures for optimisation of water use, geo-hydrological and flood defence, protection of water bodies, and regulation of water rights in the Alto Adriatico river basin.
Partners Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC), Italy SGI Studio Galli Ingegneria S.p.A., Italy


Project reference LIFE07 ENV/IT/000475
Duration 01-JAN-2009 to 31-DEC -2011
Total budget 1,838,380.00 €
EU contribution 898,380.00 €
Project location Veneto(Italia)


Read more:

Brochure Project leaflet (4.06MB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version