Utilization of information systems in river basin management (RBMP)planning

How to automatic processes for water management planning and implementation?

CHALLENGE DESCRIPTION To prepare and implement an river basin management plan requires a lot of data in the right and usable format. It is also important that the plans are prepared and implemented in consistent way throughout the country using a common approach. Data processing can be laborious, especially if it is done by yourself, therefore it is essential that RBM planners have access to information systems and software that facilitate their work. RBM planning is a cyclical process that includes 1) definition of environmental objectives, 2) assessment and monitoring of water status, 3) description of pressures, and preparation of programs of measures. The ecological and chemical status of surface water bodies in Finland has been classified three times. The first classification was completed in 2008 and the second in 2013. Throughout this time, information systems have been systematically developed for common use. The newest guidance has been published to provide updated criteria for the third water management planning period. Finland aims for open information (open data), but so far RBMP information systems (updated VEMU3) are only used by RBM planners.

DESCRIPTION OF THE SOLUTION Since the first period, the Finnish Environmental Administration has developed tools for automatic data processing and reporting for water management planning and implementation. Development in the first period was rather slow due to the lack of resources and most of the work was done manually and with expert judgement. However, things went ahead, new information systems were created for the work, also utilizing existing ones. The most important new information system is called VEMU3 (= abbreviation for water bodies in Finnish). According to the Water Management Act (1299/2004), a surface water body means a separate and significant part of surface waters such as a lake, reservoir, creek, river or canal, part of a stream, river or canal or part of coastal water. All the water basin related data on typology, monitoring, status assessment, pressures and planned measures is stored and updated in the information system. Data on water bodies can be filtered and viewed in different combinations, grouping and selecting them by different water management tasks. In addition to VEMU3 system, the use of map-based data was also promoted. In the water map (Vesikartta.fi) application, user can view the ecological and chemical status of water bodies as well as other water management related spatial data on an interactive map. The level of review can be changed from a country-wide to regional or, for example, to a single lake, river, groundwater or sea area. Advantageous spatial data and maps to be used are e.g. topographic map, soil map and aerial photographs. Modeled results are also used in RBMP. The operational Watershed simulation and forecasting system (WSFS) model calculates the generation of loading from the land areas and its propagation in waterbodies throughout Finland on daily timestep. The simulated results are river discharge, water concentrations (river, lake, groundwater) and nutrient and sediment loads into lakes, rivers and into the Baltic sea. Model is adapted for the period 2008–2019, of which annual means are presented. Introduction of the Watershed simulation and forecasting system (WSFS) is found in https://youtu.be/aWl3UamQXpY. WSFS data applicable to RBM planning can also be accessed straight from VEMU3 system. Some of the data processing and analyses has been made using e.g. SAS and R software programs (e.g. the calculation of ecological quality ratios). Some data is still compiled with Excel (e.g. fishery, phytoplankton). Various EU reports are produced with PowerBi software.

POSSIBILITY OF ADAPTING THE SOLUTION Each country has its own information-, map-based- and modeling systems. Direct copying of another country’s system is virtually impossible to do, but lessons can be learned from existing information systems. It is probably more challenging to re-introduce old systems than to start from a so-called clean slate. It is important to create automatic processes to produce data that can be directly utilized in RBMP work. Since these processes are done automatically, it is paramount to check the integrity of the produced data. Therefore, it is also worth investing in quality control of observations. Map-based documentation of implemented mitigating measures of RBM plan is needed to allow to reliably assess the impact of those measures. Open access to information systems, model results and map-based data creates trust between different actors and must be actively pursued.

Authors of the solution description:Sirkka Tattari, Jari Koskiaho
State of implementation of the solution:in progress

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