Environmental Flows and Point Source Emissions

Special Secretariat for Water, being responsible for the implementation of the WFD in Greece, needs to evaluate the efficacy, under climate change pressures, of regulatory measures (Emission Limit Values) imposed on local industry at the Asopos River area.

SWICCA’s River Flow indicators will be the key data for evaluating the assimilative capacity of Asopos River under different scenarios regarding average flow conditions.

Climate impact indicators conveniently accessible, are key data, free of the need for laborious processing. They cannot cover all aspects of local issues but combined with local data can support climate change impact investigations.

Read recent progress here!

Asopos River

Asopos River in central Greece, near Attika.

Case Study Description
Data Description
Reference information

Water-management issue to be addressed

The Asopos River basin is located in central Greece, at the River Basin District of Eastern Sterea Ellada. It's water bodies receive significant pressure, in terms of both quantity and quality, mainly attributed to water abstraction for irrigation and to the significant industrial activity in the area, respectively. The industrial sector in the area reflects approximately 20% of the total national industrial production. Thus, the Special Secretariat for Water (responsible for the implementation of the WFD in Greece) needs to assess the climate change impact on water quality of Asopos river. This assessment includes evaluation of the efficacy of relative National Management Plans, how to climate-proof the quality of this important waterbody, and the economic growth and industrial sustainability.

Decision support to client

Current study’s results will be used for the evaluation of the efficacy of (a) relative National Management Plans and (b) regulatory measures imposed on local industry for environmental protection of Asopos River, under climate change conditions.

Indicators downloaded from SWICCA Demonstrator combined with local data allowed for an initial assessment of the climate change impact on monthly river discharges which in turn affects the water quality of Asopos River. These data support maintaining the fragile balance between environmental protection and economic viability and sustainability of the significant industrial activity in the area.

Temporal and spatial scale

The client is interested in evaluating (1) environmental impacts of climate change and (2) protective/adaptive measures effectiveness for a period of maximum 20 years ahead.

The above mentioned goals concerns the Asopos River Basin (regional scale), which extends over 720 km2, located only 35 km away from Greek capital, Athens, and hosts a large industrial sector (20% of the total national industrial production). 

Knowledge Brokering

The communication with the client takes place via meetings in person, phone calls and e-mails.

Meetings with the client are arranged whenever something must be presented in order to be explained and discussed. Presentations of the concept of the project and our planed workflow, combined with discussions over the presented material have led to a first level of understanding: The client begins to realize the information that can be made available and the level of service that can be offered and we (the knowledge purveyors) better understand the client’s needs and are aware of clients problems that can arise and need to be solved. Meetings are followed by phone calls or e-mails in order to (1) clarify matters that came up during the evaluation of meeting results, (2) request data required for the assessment, (3) inform over the progress of the project and (4) arrange a new meeting. Intermediate results of the assessment will be presented to the client via meetings in person in order ensure that: (i) results are useful for the client, (ii) it is clear to the client what can and what cannot be expected from the certain assessment and (iii) to re-asses the client’s needs based on discussions over (i) and (ii) presented above.

Climate Impact Indicators

Pan-European Indicators

Indicators used for this study are: River Flow (seasonality).

Local indicators

The investigation of possible connections between hydrological forcing data (from pan-European models) and historical water quality problems may reveal useful, local indicators.

Pan-European data to local scale

Environmental flows and point source_EMVIS

Indicators of Hydrology and future climate – Identification of future discharge characteristics for Asopos River Basin. Relative indicators: (1) future change of low-flow discharges, low flow characteristics (discharge, mean annual duration etc) but also indicators on most prevailing flow conditions and (2) future predictions of discharge time series to be directly evaluated. Indicators result from Pan-European hydrological models, which were based on Pan-European climate change predictions from an ensemble of climate models.

Local data of industrial activity – Collect local data concerning industrial activity in Asopos River Basin which is related directly to the river (e.g. effluent receiver or water source). Collect local discharge data and identify major pollutants loading of river.

Local socio-economic data – Investigate connections between population, local economic growth, present ecological status and official regulatory permits.

Historical data analysis – Evaluate population and sectoral economy growth potential, based on local historical data, in order to estimate future industrial activity and future pollution loads in Asopos River.

Water Quality Modelling – Use hydrological data (Pan-European indicators) and estimated pollution loads (River Basin Assessment), to model water quality of Asopos River under present and future conditions. Evaluate different climate change scenarios to investigate the effect of hydrological changes in the assimilative capacity of the river. Examine the seasonal variations in the assimilative capacity to identify periods of time that surface water quality is likely to be compromised by specific pollutants. Investigate connection of hydrological forcing data (from pan-European models) with water quality problems and identify possible useful indicators.

Adaptation Strategy – If climate change impact to the river’s assimilative ability and quality is significant, depending on the future scenario evaluated, strategic adaptation measures will be investigated to ensure sustainable and environmental-friendly economic growth of the study area. Reevaluation of Emission Limit Values for the industry or measures to be incorporated in River Basin Management Plans will be discussed. Uncertainties of the assessment, related to the uncertainties of the climate change indicators, can be crucial and should be estimated if necessary and significant changes should be imposed on local economy.

Lessons learnt

Indicators downloaded from SWICCA Demonstrator combined with local data allowed for an initial assessment of the climate change impact on monthly river discharges, in a comprehensive way without the use of complicated climate and hydrological models. While further analysis will be attempted using hydrological output from VIC and Lisflood models, initial results show that river discharges in Asopos area are not likely to change drastically, posing a risk for the surface water quality. In the scenarios examined, ELVs remain practically the same in the 2020 and 2050 time period. A re-evaluation of the ELVs in the future may be necessary only in response to an increase in the industrial activity of the area, however this is not considered the most likely scenario.

Importance and Relevance of Adaptation

Ensuring environmental sustainability along with economic growth of local industry is a key goal and closely depends on the ability to adapt to future climate conditions. Estimations on future hydrologic conditions and incorporation in environmental assessments would often include rough estimations, or even assumptions, of expected change in some of the problems variables. The Climate Service is expected to provide a series of different climate impact indicators and variables, which are based on current scientific knowledge, which can be easily accessible and will be available for different scenarios. As a result, the effect of climate impact on hydrology and therefore on the environmental status can be assessed thoroughly, increasing the climate adaptation abilities.

Pros and Cons or Cost-Benefit analysis of climate adaptation

Environmental policies (e.g. WFD) impose the need to protect the quality of Asopos River and therefore, establish regulations for water uses. However, it is also very important for the local economy that the significant industrial sector continue to be viable and not “strangled” by hard-to-comply-with regulations. The above “boundary conditions” define a fragile relationship between sustainable economy and environment. This fragile balance could be easily overthrown by climate change impacts. The cost of changing the above-mentioned balance would be hard to estimate, however it is self-evident that armoring the industry-river relationship against climate change impacts is of great environmental and economic importance.

Policy aspects 

The present case study is related to water quality issues of the Asopos River, a major effluent receiver of an extended industrial area. The Special Secretariat for Water needs to evaluate the efficacy of the currently established effluent quality limitations and if necessary adjust the relevant local policy, in relation to the goals of the EU Water Framework Directive.


EMVIS Consultant Engineers

Apostolos Tzimas
+30 210 652 8078


EMVIS Consultant Engineers 

Special Secretariat for Water - Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change 


Relevant EU Policy


Purveyor: EMVIS Consultant Engineers

Apostolos Tzimas
 +30 210 652 8078

Value added by Copernicus Climate Change Service: 


special secretary for water

ministry of environment

Client: Special Secretariat for Water

Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change

Study Area – The Asopos River basin

Study area - The Asopos River Basin


Testing of Emission Limit Values with wPolis developed under SWITCH-ON project

Testing of Emission Limit Values with wPolis developed under SWITCH-ON project


Testing risk of violating Environmental Quality Standards using wPrisma developed under SWITCH-ON project

Testing risk of violating Environmental Quality Standards using wPrisma developed under SWITCH-ON project