Spatial Data Management and Numerical Modelling: Demonstrating the Application of the QGIS-Integrated Platform at 13 Case Studies for Tackling Groundwater Resource Management
Because of the spatial nature of groundwater-related data and their time component, effective groundwater management requires the application of methods pertaining to the Information and Communication Technologies sector, such as spatial data management and distributed numerical modelling. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the QGIS-integrated FREEWAT platform and an approach combining spatial data management and numerical models to target groundwater management
... ssues. FREEWAT is a free and open source platform integrated in a Geographic Information System environment and embedding tools for pre- and post-processing of spatial data and integrating numerical codes for the simulation of the hydrological cycle, with a main focus on groundwater. To this aim, this paper briefly presents the FREEWAT platform, introduces the FREEWAT approach, and showcases 13 case studies in European and non-European countries where the FREEWAT platform was applied. Application of the FREEWAT platform to real-world case studies is presented for targeting management of coastal aquifers, ground- and surface-water interaction, climate change impacts, management of transboundary aquifers, rural water management and protection of groundwater-dependent ecosystems. In this sense, compared to other existing software suites, FREEWAT allows data analysis and visualization to accomplish each step of the modelling workflow, i.e., from data analytics, to conceptual model definition, to numerical modelling and reporting of results. The presented experiences demonstrate that improved access to data and the portability of models and models' results can help to promote water sustainability from the local- to the basin-scale. Furthermore, FREEWAT may represent a valuable tool to target the objective of increasing the capabilities of public authorities and private companies to manage groundwater resources by means of up-to-date, robust, well-documented and reliable software, without entailing the need of costly licensing, nowadays seldom affordable by public water authorities. Based on the strengths highlighted, the FREEWAT platform is a powerful tool for groundwater resources management, and for data collection, sharing, implementation and comparison of scenarios, for supporting planning and decision-making.