Future of water

Its objective is to find answers to the following questions related to drought and water scarcity:

How much water will we have in rivers, dams and underground in the future?
Will its amount decrease when evaporation and requirements of plants increase as a result of higher temperatures?
And how much less water will there be?
How much more water will we need in higher temperatures?
Where will there be water shortage areas?

A mathematical model for water movement in the landscape will be applied to simulate conditions at the time of advancing warming in the upcoming decades, i.e. the loss of water due to different, especially warmer, weather.

A forecast of water needs for 2050 will be prepared up to the level of individual regions. The requirements of energy, agriculture, industry and the population will be examined.

Areas with a risk of water shortage will be identified by comparing the results of water loss in the landscape on the one hand and the increased demands of the entire society on the other.

Water and landscape

The task will be to identify appropriate measures in the landscape at a time of climate change. Research will focus on droughts and flash floods, which are, as we know, dangerous for life and health. They mainly occur in small streams and rivers but houses are sometimes flooded before the water reaches the water flow, i. e. directly with water from fields and meadows. We know from recent events that sometimes life is at risk, not to mention property and other damage. Answers to the following questions will be sought:

How effective will be current flood and drought measures – such as small or dry reservoirs – in the face of climate change?
How to design measures or supplement their system so that it is as useful as possible in drought, during floods and otherwise? After all, a small tank can be a reservoir for fire water; it can also be a place for swimming and a suitable cooling habitat. All these qualities can be useful in times when there should be far more heat waves but also torrential rains.
How to design such measures against floods and droughts as best as possible and for a reasonable amount?
How to determine the impact of these technical structures on nature - streams, rivers and the landscape? Can these technical structures be designed in a way that could even improve the natural state?

Water for people

The task is to find appropriate measures for water supply in areas where it will be lacking in the future. Measures such as the following will be assessed:

  • transfers of water by means of raceways and pipes between places where it is in excess to places where it is lacking,
  • artificial infiltration or seepage of surface water into groundwater – storage of water at a time when it resides during the dry season,
  • increasing the volume of water in existing reservoirs, establishing a storage volume in still dry reservoirs, better handling rules of reservoirs, modelling of water quality in reservoirs,
  • construction of new small reservoirs or renovation of original ones,
  • a better way of caring for groundwater resources – adjusting their management in protection zones,
  • and also the construction of new valley reservoirs – dams. This is a frequently discussed issue. There are designated places in the landscape for the location of dams. These are suitable in terms of the amount of water, the shape of the terrain and the geological subsoil. They are technically called "sites for surface water storage". And their assessment will be one of the most monitored parts of the project.

The package will also propose and assess several different systems of measures in a selected pilot area. Their economy, impact on nature, benefits for water supply or recreation will be evaluated.

Water and industry

Its objective is to find ways to reduce the amount of wastewater from industry and to clean it better and more cheaply. It will focus on the occurrence of hazardous and particularly hazardous substances in wastewater, which are categories of pollutants monitored both at the national and European levels. The standards of wastewater treatment plants will be assessed to see if they meet modern requirements and use the latest and best technologies. Special attention will be paid to industrial wastewater discharged into municipal sewers. Municipal treatment plants to which this water flows are usually not well adapted for its treatment, and therefore it is necessary to prepare a proposal for their adjustment or reconstruction.

Cleaner water

Improving water quality in rivers, dams and ponds is still not sufficient. What is behind that? Are cities and industry or fields and agriculture or even air pollution to be blamed? The answers to these questions are no longer as simple as in the past, when the sources of pollution were clearly visible. This package will examine where the decisive part of the pollution in our water comes from today, in what way and in what quantity.

For example, do you know what fingerprinting is for water managers? Every polluter leaves behind a typical imprint in the river. It is a certain combination of chemicals and their quantities. And this is a way to trace the polluter. The database of such fingerprints will be one of the outputs of the project.

Most water quality monitoring takes place in nice weather. Who would get wet during sampling, right? But what happens in the rain? Wastewater treatment plants cannot process everything in the rain and relief pipes in front of the treatment plant come into operation. What is washed out in such cases? Some have special sewers just for rainwater. But after the rain, clean rainwater certainly does not flow from these outfalls. What does such murky and often oil-stained water contain? That is another question in this area of research.

Water as an environment for life

This package deals with those who live in the water – fish, crayfish, snails and other animals. For example, the number of fish that like to live in the current decreases. Is it due to technical adjustments of rivers, water pollution or water loss during long-term drought? These questions, as well as how to help endangered fish, are covered in the first part of this package.

The next part will be the focus on the often neglected small watercourses in the agricultural landscape, in which the decline of many species is observed around the world. Is this also true in our country? Which species are concerned? Are pesticides, other substances or technical adjustments of these streams to be blamed?

Another part of the research is devoted to small streams, especially those that have been unnecessarily adjusted. How many more nutrients will the stream capture in its natural state, compared to a stream that is a more or less made of concrete? How many more animals would be in the natural stream? Where to return streams to their natural state first to get the most effect out of it? These are the questions for this part.

Not only the longitudinal apron of the stream can cause a lot of problems for water inhabitants.   Transverse structures, weirs etc. prevent them from travelling for food and reproduction. But how did the fish passages built so far through these weirs help the fish? Are they beneficial for animals? To what extent do they work? What is the best way to build them? The research will also include an experimental fish pass, on which its design – inclination, width, slits for water flow and so on – will be tested so that it is as passable as possible for fish. Did previously extinct species return to the largest rivers thanks to the new fish passes? How can movements (fish migration), numbers, age and health status of fish be best monitored? Which flows need the most help to be passable? These are the primary questions for this area of ​​work.

Another area deals with our rarest aquatic animals and plants – the so-called priority and specially protected species. It will be examined how they can be best protected, what measures to take in the protected areas where they live and how to prepare rescue programmes as best as possible if needed.

Thematic Annual Programming Action

In January 2022, the Water Center project was connected to the AquaticPollutants Thematic Annual Programming Action (TAP Action). It is the establishment of a network or grouping of national project excellence in order to create partnerships and ensure the sharing of know-how and information.

The topic of the call is "Measuring of Inputs and Taking Actions to Reduce CECs, Pathogens, and Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria in the Aquatic Ecosystems (inland and marine)". A total of 8 national projects from four European countries - the Czech Republic, France, Ireland and Spain - are involved in the call (the involvement of other projects from Sweden is under discussion).

The task of TAP Action members is to actively find opportunities for cooperation, to help expand and/or transfer knowledge about the characterization and transformation of CEC substances, antimicrobial resistance, about methodologies and strategies for remediation, and about the possibilities of reducing these contaminants in aquatic ecosystems.