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Project Mediterranean Intermittent River ManAGEment

The proposed research project MIRAGE (Mediterranean Intermittent River ManAGEment) aims to provide specific key knowledge for a better assessment of ecological integrity (or ecological status in the words of the European Water Framework Directive) in Mediterranean temporary streams.

MIRAGE will develop the practical measures necessary to understand their impact on nutrient dynamics, toxic substances and organic matter and to link these aspects to an Integrated flood management. 

Using thematic investigations in different river basins in all South-European member states and Morocco, the project will undertake an integrative co-development of exemplary River Basin Management Plans in two mirror basins in Greece and Italy to support the applicability of the EU Water Framework Directive for temporary streams and hence supporting substantially the development of Integrated Water Resources Management in the Circum-Mediterranean region.

To date, adequate implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive, 2000/60/EC (EU-WFD) and the development of River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) including the Programme of Measures (PoM) for temporary streams urgently requires new concepts of hydrological and ecological characterization, as well as a revised and better integrated understanding of the impact of management measures, both under extreme floods and in the context of seasonal dry periods.

Mirage is designed to make use of the rich stock of pre-existing knowledge and to focus its work on emerging key research gaps resulting from a careful elaboration process during the last years amongst leading research teams in the ERA.

This project is supported by funding from the specific programme 'Cooperation,' theme 'Environment (including Climate Change)' under the 7th Research Framework Programme of the European Union.

See also:

Project number 211732
Acronym MIRAGE
Geographical coverage Greece, Italy, Morocco, France, Spain,Portugal,Germany,Belgium,United Kingdom,
Budget (in €) 5600000
Programme EU FP7 Specific Targeted Research Project - Cooperation
Web site

Specifically the MIRAGE research and project objectives are

  • to derive a hydrological characterisation of temporary streams for the Mediterranean region,
  • to provide an applicable set of reference conditions related to the specific ecosystem dynamics of temporary streams in the Mediterranean region based on the tight link between terrestrial and aquatic states (both structural and functional approaches),
  • to link the Programme of Measures to the effect of dry periods on the accumulation and transformation of nutrients, sediments and hazardous substances on the land and in river channels,
  • to specify and to test relevant measures that support the achievement of good ecological status as requested in the EU WFD and to make recommendations for integrative catchment management for both floods and drought periods,
  • to support actively the concrete implementation of the WFD and the development of integrated water resources management strategies in six complementary Mediterranean river basins on the basis of advanced ecohydrology concepts,
  • to develop and apply the knowledge-base necessary for scenario analyses examining water scarcity impacts due to climate change and land use change as well as threats to ecosystems such as transitional waters,
  • to support the general application of the EU WFD in Mediterranean river basins by providing guidelines on using temporary stream characterization and relating this to the choice of appropriate measures.

The hydrological characterisation of temporary streams, in combination with the study of extreme events, is a central element of the project. The uniqueness of temporary stream hydrology is the main reason that prevents the simple transfer of results from regions with perennial streams. Furthermore, the targeted tight integration of the ecological reference condition and the hydrological reference conditions is an overdue requirement in addressing the scaling up from local to regional, and to the European scale in order to support the harmonization and development of water management policies for the Circum-Mediterranean region.

The distinct hydrological variability of temporary streams clearly also drives the pollution dynamics and therefore the investigation of practical measures related to (i) inputs from nutrients and organic matter from sewage effluents, (ii) erosive loss of debris, particulates and adsorbed nutrients, (iii) remediation of hazardous substances from stream sediments and (iv) an Integrated flood management.


The main purpose of workpackage WP3 (Hydrology) and WP4 (Ecology) will be to provide the overall knowledge for the hydrological and ecological characterisation, whereas WP4 will use the information developed in WP3 to systematize the reference conditions accordingly. Results will enter the WP2 be used to support the later specifications of the WFD and the support of the RBMP in WP2.

WP 5 (Point source pollution), WP 6 (Erosion, sediment and particulate delivery), and WP 7(Hazardous substances) will investigate their specific topic by use of detailed field and laboratory experiments). Here in particular, the innovative revised consideration of measure design and applicability for the problems met at temporary streams will be undertaken. 

WP8 (integrated flood management) is on the one side similar to WP5 – WP7 providing a practical measure for improving the ecological status, but will link on the same time also the pollution dynamics from point and non point source pollution to the occurrence of floods, resulting first flush effects and the significance/ return period of major loadings to sensitive water bodies downstream. Results are commonly entering into WP2 for supporting the selection of measures within the RBMP.

The WPs and their outcomes can be summarised as follows:
WP 1 - Coordination – Management of Mirage
WP 2 - Support and Implement the WFD
Expected outcome: Guidance on IWRM in catchments of temporary waters in line with the WFD.
WP 3 - Hydrological regime of temporary streams
Expected outcome: Hydrological characterisation of temporary waters in line with the WFD, at both catchment and regional scales.
WP 4 - Structural and functional assessment of temporary streams: A linked aquatic and terrestrial perspective
Expected outcome: Integrated assessment toolbox including structural and functional indicators in line with the WFD, advance in knowledge on functional linkage between aquatic and terrestrial assemblages.
WP 5 - Nutrient dynamics and organic matter
Expected outcome: Advance in knowledge of nutrient and organic matter dynamics and guidance on related measures in temporary waters.
WP 6 - Sediment regime
Expected outcome: Advance in knowledge of particulate dynamics, the influence on water quality and guidance on related measures in temporary waters.
WP 7 - Hazardous substances
Expected outcome: Advance in knowledge of hazardous substances dynamics and guidance on related measures in temporary waters.
WP 8 – Integrated flood management for water quality
Expected outcome: Advance in knowledge of flush-associated risks related to water quality, assessment and guidance on related measures in temporary waters. 

The test sites that will be studied are located in six countries all over the Mediterranean:

Evrotas, Greece
Candelaro, Italy
Sebou, Morocco
Vène (Département of Hérault), France
Vallcebre, Spain
Enxoé, Portugal
Taibilla, Spain

Period [01/01/2009 - 31/12/2011]


  • D8.1: Identification of applicable options for integrated flood management

    Project acronym: MIRAGE

    Project name: Mediterranean Intermittent River ManAGEment

    Call and Contract: FP7-ENV-2007-1

    Grant agreement no.: 211732

    Project Duration: 01/01/2009 – 31.12.2011 (36 months)

    Co-ordinator: Alterra, Wageningen UR – Centre for Water and Climate, Netherlands

    Partners: TUC, Technical University of Crete, Greece

    JRC-IES, Joint Research Centre (IT), Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Rural, Water and Ecosystem Resources Unit, Italy

    CNR-IRSA, Istituto di Ricerca Sulle Acque, Italy

    CSIC, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain

    UB, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

    UMU, Universidad de Murcia, Spain

    UM2, HydroSciences Montpellier, IRD – Universités Montpellier, France

    UNIVLEEDS, University of Leeds, School of Geography, UK

    CEH, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, UK

    FVB, Forschungsverbund Berlin e. V. - Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Germany

    IMAR, Institute of Marine Research, Portugal

    HCMR, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece

    FST-Fes, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques – Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah de Fes, Morocco

    ABP, Autorità di Bacino della Puglia, Italy

    Type of document Report
    Rights Public
    File link
    File link local Mirage_Deliverable_8.1_submitted.25052009.pdf (PDF, 480 Kb)
    Source of information MIRAGE project
    Keyword(s) EU-INCO-MED, FP7, EU-WFD, river management, Integrated flood management, River Basin Management Plans
    Geographical coverage Greece, Italy, Morocco, France, Spain,Portugal,Germany,Belgium,United Kingdom,