European project to better protect water resources in agricultural area

On 13 June, the kick-off meeting of WATERPROTECT took place in Ghent. This European research and innovation project aims to contribute to the development and implementation of new agricultural practice focused on improving water quality in areas where water quality is under severe pressure due to fertilisation and the use of crop protection products. VITO is lead partner of this project, co-financed by ‘Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme’ funds of the European Commission. 

In order to realise this, VITO and its European partners (including Flemish partners ILVO, Inagro, VMW, De Watergroep) are setting up ‘action labs’ in seven different countries: the Bollaertbeek (Belgium), Wexford County (Ireland), Llobregat (Spain), Jebjerg (Denmark), Gowiecina (Poland), Val Tidone (Italy), Maramures (Romania). Although agriculture and local challenges differ by action lab, all seven are confronted with contaminated drinking water supplies with nutrients and pesticides.

During this three-year project, a multi-actor approach will be used to explore what opportunities exist to improve the water quality in the action labs. New governance models are being tested (policy and surveillance methods) and farmers will be more involved in monitoring and improving water quality in order to increase the level of involvement. At the same time, new agricultural practices will be promoted and introduced. 

Based on the results and findings, detailed advice and info will be given both to European and national policy levels, but also to all other relevant parties. 

Furthermore, the WATERPROTECT reporting tool, developed by VITO, will be used to not only better map and improve the water quality in the Belgian action lab, but also in the Italian and Romanian ones.

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