OPTIMA: Optimisation   for Sustainable
Water Resources Management


The project is designed for a period of three years. It consists of four overlapping main phases with their associated milestones.

The first, initial phase is dedicated to the analysis of detailed requirements and constraints, the structure of the decision making processes in the case study regions, identification of major actors, analysis of data availability versus data requirements, and the resulting detailed specifications for the basic water resources simulation model. The different physiographical as well as socio-economic and institutional setting of the individual case studies planned will provide a rich set of examples for a truly generic approach across seven parallel Mediterranean case studies covering an accession country, an associated country, and five Mediterranean partner countries for a rich comparative analysis.

The second phase will concentrate, in parallel, on data compilation and tool development. Based on the specifications evolving from the overlapping first phase, the basic tools (simulation, optimisation, assessment) to be used will be adjusted and adapted for the individual case studies. A main element here is the integration of quantitative methods based on simulation modelling and qualitative assessment in the socio-economic domain for a broad multi-criteria approach. A major component of the data compilation tasks will be to obtain and unify, in terms of classification using, e.g., CORINE as a model, remote sensing data (satellite imagery) and GIS data for each case study for a current analysis of land use as one of the major driving variables.

Data compilation will also include, as a central task across all case studies, the building of a regional data base of water technologies and associated cost functions (investment, OMR, social costs) as the basis for the optimisation, but also as a valuable information resource in its own right. A general important objective will be to achieve enough methodological flexibility to meet the constraints expected in different settings, including the possibility to use generic and default data as a first approximation where necessary. The project will utilise and exploit existing results and ongoing research wherever possible, exploiting the rich set of data from past and present Euro-Mediterranean S&T Cooperation (e.g., from previous INCO-DC and INCO-MED projects). As a specific example, aims to share data for the case studies with SMART (ICA3-CT-2002-10006), which deals with integrated coastal zone management and the management of scarce resources.

The third and central phase will concentrate on the individual case studies; the emphasis here is on the parallel use and comparative evaluation of the common methodology and tools for a range of regional or local studies with different structural details within the common objective. Parallel with the modelling and optimisation tasks, the setup for the intended participatory approach and actor involvement will be prepared and tested. However, sufficient flexibility will be provided for stakeholder involvement in framing the key issues. Direct comparability of optimal water management strategies designed in the individual case studies will be ensured through the use of a common framework of indicators. Running the case studies in parallel and synchronized as much as possible should guarantee the full exploitation of different experiences in the case studies, leading to more general conclusions but also an effective work style through shared experience with common tools and objectives, leading to the regional dissemination tasks.

The fourth phase will concentrate on comparative evaluation and dissemination. Generalization of the lessons learned, and the dissemination of project results to as wide as possible an audience using a broad range of communication methods prominently including the Internet will be the central activities. Formats like Guidebooks (on-line) and distance learning tools will be considered in additional to more classical dissemination workshops.

Dissemination is understood not as a post-processing step in the project, but as an essential element of the decision making process itself, assisted by the interactive DSS and information technology in general as the methodological core of the approach. Active end user involvement at various stages of the process is an important goal.

Project Milestones:

The project milestones are foreseen at more or less regular, six-monthly intervals, designed to coincide not only with well defined programmatic progress related to the work packages, but also the timing of administrative (progress) reports. Around each milestone, a meeting of the project steering committee is planned.

Milestone Month Milestone Description
M1PM 06 End of preparatory phase, first workshop
M2PM 12 Methods and tools prototypes ready, start of operational phase
M3PM 18 Case studies implemented, first results of optimisation runs
M4PM 24 Post-optimal analysis and assessment phase initiated
M5PM 33 Case studies completed, second stage optimisation
M6PM 36 Project and reporting completed

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