Nature-based Solutions on existing infrastructures for resilient Water Management in the Mediterranean

Arborea farming district, Italy

FWC-NbS 3: Aquifer (Type B)

Location:  Sardinia, Italy

Climate: Hot-summer Mediterranean climate

Area: 6000 Ha

Objectives: Improve groundwater quality and storage with low-cost and more efficient technological solutions.

Challenges: Water quality; diffuse contamination of aquifers with nitrates; soil fertility management

Description: The Arborea farming district represents one of the most productive agricultural sites in Italy and is identified as a Nitrates Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). It is located on a plain surrounded by marsh wetlands which are protected under the EU Natura 2000 directive and the Ramsar convention. There is a sandy and alluvial aquifer connected to each other. Some projects have been implemented to mitigate the high nitrate groundwater contamination (RE-LIVE, MEDISS). Currently, A MAR pilot system through the technique Forested Infiltration Area (FIA) is being tested as best practice in the sandy phreatic aquifer within the MENAWARA project. 

  • Agriculture: Irrigated crops to produce fodder for the dairy cattle farming system. Other crops are alfalfa and horticultural crops, often cultivated in greenhouses.
  • Communities: Strong Cooperatives supporting farmers technically and administratively.
  • Water policies: WFD 2000/60/EC; Nitrate Directive 91/676.
  • Data: Baseline of drainage water (pesticides and herbicides) and groundwater (contaminants)


MAR: FIA system, PTS and monitoring automatization

The Forested Infiltration Area (FIA) system has been implemented in the context of the Menawara project. The aim is to upgrade and improve the solution operation during NATMed project. For upgrading the FIA system, new recharge trenches will be realized by installing geotextiles and geocomposites at the infiltrating surface, to filter the drainage water directly at the trenches. For upgrading the PTS, specific materials such as iron oxides/hydroxides and/or clays will be added providing extra sites for the sorption of anionic and cationic contaminants. In addition, monitoring automatization of the FIA system will be implemented. Information and communication technologies (ICT) techniques to monitor input and output of the FIA system to get continuous data of climate, flow rates, piezometric levels, soil moisture; and remote control of multiparametric probes for quality of drainage water and groundwater.