Project Officer: Hartmut Barth






Dept. of Environmental Studies Laboratory Of Applied Environmental Economics



9-10 March 2001





Name Organization – Role in EUROCAT
A. Karageorgis NCMR – Principal Contractor 12
N. Nikolaidis NCMR
K. Pagou NCMR
Ch. Anagnostou NCMR
E. Karamanos IGME – Subcontractor to NCMR
V. Zanou NCMR-University of Aegean
M. Skourtos University of Aegean – Assistant Contractor to NCMR
A. Kontogianni University of Aegean
D. Synodinos University of Aegean
S. Xenarios University of Aegean
M. Bakas University of Aegean
K. Savvoglou University of Aegean



2.1. The Axios River Catchment. General overview Aristomenis P. Karageorgis (NCMR)

Scope of the meeting
Main scope of the 1st Axios Catchment Meeting will be the overall presentation of EUROCAT project into a wider group of scientists, who will be working together in the next three years, in a common effort to implement the DPSIR framework in the Axios Catchment. Recently, we identified the absence of a common ground for environmental scientists and socio-economists and we expect this meeting to shade more light in the activities of both groups and hence bring us closer to our shared tasks. A general overview of the Axios Catchment characteristics will provide the broad picture of the area and its environmental setting. On the other hand a more detailed presentation of the specific problems of the working area will be discussed.

The Axios Catchment
Most of the Axios River Catchment (Fig. 1) belongs to FYROM (Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia).

Axios River Hydrology
The use of river water for irrigation resulted in a dramatic reduction of freshwater discharge during the past 20 years. The same effects (and maybe more intense) are observed for the suspended sediment discharges, which are further reduced due to the construction of dams along the river for hydroelectric power and irrigation.

  • Mean annual water discharge (historical data):
5 x 109 m3 y-1
  • Mean annual water discharge (1997-1998):  
3 x 109 m3 y-1
  • Mean annual solid discharge (historical data):
15 x 106 T y-1
  • Mean annual solid discharge (1997-1998):
0.065 x 106 T y-1

Axios River Nutrients Loa
Axios River supplies the gulf of Thermaikos with N and P, which mainly originates from fertilisers that are extensively used in the area. However, the gulf receives nutrients from the neighbouring Aliakmon River and a significant load from the city of Thessaloniki. The wastewater treatment plant of the city (population ~1,500,000) is partly operating and a considerable amount of domestic effluents are released into the gulf completely untreated.

Axios River Heavy Metals Load
The river sediments chemical composition indicates that heavy metal concentrations are elevated for Pb, Cd, Zn and As. It is known that part of these metals come from natural sources, which are the ultra-basic formations in the catchment, however, we believe that part of the metals are released in the river water as industrial effluents from the smelting plants of FYROM.


Figure 1. The Axios River Catchment. Yellow line: Political Border; Red line: Watershed; Cyan line: Axios River; Blue line: Other rivers.

Axios River and the Coastal Zone
The coastal zone of Thermaikos Gulf shows the impact of high nutrient loads. Eutrophication events have been reported in the past several times. Marine surface sediments also show high concentrations of heavy metals, pointing out that metal accumulation takes place in the estuary area.

2.2.   Available data
Helen Karamanos (IGME)

Available data for the Axios River within the Greek territory.
1. Data collected from various sources. All the available Geological, pedological (soil formations), hydrological, hydrochemical and meteorological data have been collected stored, and partly processed and are available.  The data and their sources are: 

Geological and Geochemical data from compilation of available data produced within the framework of Regional Surveys conducted by IGME on a National basis. (IGME: internal Reports and files).

Water discharge of Axios River in Axioupolis station (national border) measured by the Ministry of Public Works  (Records 1951.1989).

Additional water discharge measurements on Prochoma station (1971-1996, near the river mouth) conducted by the Institute of Drainage Development, Ministry of Agriculture.

Quality control parameters and nutrients for surface waters of Axios R. Prochoma station 

Meteorological data of related stations to Axios lower course collected and stored. Records from the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, sector of Environmental Control Sindos. (1994-1998)

 2. Recently produced data during the EU project Metro-Med also include monthly measurements of river water discharge, monthly sampling and analytical data produced from river waters, suspended sediments and active sediments, the calculation of their annual fluxes, and their year average physicochemical characteristics.

Hydrological measurements, water and sediment sampling and analysis were made from two locations along the Axios River on a monthly basis for a hydrologic year (September 1997-August 1998).  The upstream station is located in the Axioupolis Bridge and the river mouth station near Malgara town on the bridge of the old national highway.

Applied Methodology
Hydrological measurements sampling and analysis started in September 1997 and continued on a monthly basis for over a year.

Water flow velocity was measured for both stations using the flow meter BFM002 (Valeport Marine Scientific LTD) the water flow rate was measured at three depth intervals of the river at each particular cross section.

1-litre of total water sample has been collected from each location on a monthly basis, and analyzed for major elements (Ca, Mg, Na, K, Cl).
Nutrients  (SO4, NO3, NO2, NH4, PO4) and some physicochemical parameters (T, pH, TDS, hardness) following the standard water quality analysis of IGME.
An additional 1-litre filtered water sample has been also collected on a monthly basis, acidified, and analyzed with ICPMS for major elements, heavy metals, trace, Rare Earths and radioactive elements in solution.
Sampling and filtering of additional 5-litre water sample, on a monthly basis from the river mouth station for suspended sediments. The filters (Schleicher & Schuell No. 581) were dried in a desiccator and re-weighed; the solid residue yields particulate matter concentration.
Suspended sediment samples have been analyzed with ICPMS for major elements, traces, Rare Earths and radioactive elements, and selected additional samples have been analyzed for mineralogical parameters by XRD.     
Analytical data for nutrients and major elements and heavy metals were compiled with water discharge values and calculations of equivalent concentration were made for both water and solids.
Active stream sediments that were sampled from several locations along the river were further examined for their grain size properties and chemistry by ICPMS for major elements, traces, Rare Earths and radioactive elements.
 Carbon analysis for organic inorganic total Carbon of active sediment samples.
Data input, evaluation and correlation: Data have been stored and calculations have been programmed using Excel Worksheets and Visual Basic, and complete records for each river station are available.
A topographic of drainage system map has been produced, with the locations of water discharge measurements and sampling sites, using GIS.
A geological map has been produced for simplified geology within the total drainage basin of Axios River.
Available data for the Axios River from FYROM.
Some data concerning the freshwater discharges have been traced in the WWW and we have managed to obtain permission for their use. However, time series of water discharges, nutrients and heavy metals are not yet available.
Recently, we managed to acquire some data on the water chemistry (monthly data for one year) but still we have to assess the quality of the data set, the applied methodology, etc. It is important to establish continuous flow of information from FYROM scientists and some actions will be planned to accomplish this task.



2.3.   Modeling Update Nikolaos P. Nikolaidis (NCMR)

The modeling approach we’ll follow in this project is to collect a series of environmental models and tools of varying complexity and choose the ones that are most appropriate for the database and environmental situation at Axios Watershed.  In particular, our “modeling bag” consists of 2 watershed models and 1 coastal model.  These are:


Our main watershed model will be MONERIS.  This is an emissions based, large basin model that was developed in Germany.  The advantage in using a model like MONERIS is that it has a simple parameterization that can be used to simulate large watersheds.  The problem with this model is that it is using empirical equations to define emissions from various land uses that are based on data from Germany that may or may not apply to Greece.  We propose to circumvent this problem by applying a physically based parameterized model (Basin’s HSPF) to a sub-basin that has been studied more intensely and obtain the relevant emission equations from the model.  HSPF is a lumped parameter model at the sub-basin scale.  It is developed in the USA and has been applied to a large number of basins. 

Regarding the costal area, we propose to use the CABARET model.  The model estimates the hydrologic, salt and nutrient budgets of the coastal system on an annual or monthly basis.  The model was developed by the LOICZ project. A meeting in Athens will be organized to test the efficiency of this model using real data from the Axios River catchment.

We’ll use the synergistic effect from our other projects since all of them will be using the same models for their activities.  Other existing are:

  1. Acheloos River Project funded by the Hellenic Ministry of Agriculture.  In this project, we are monitoring the delta of the river and through modeling we’ll find the contribution of agriculture to the nutrient loading of the river.
  2. Lake Trichonis watershed project funded by LIFE – NATURA 2000.  This project aims at the protection and preservation of calcareous bogs with Cladium mariscus and Carex sp.  The watershed is part of the Acheloos river watershed.

  3. Environmental Impacts of EU policies and the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in the Acheloos River watershed. The policy advisory Committee established for this project was mentioned.

2.4.   Socio-economic dimension Michalis Skourtos (UoA)



Expanding of industrial zone area of Thesalloniki City
Urban expanding
Intensified agriculture cultivation (mainly rice cultivation)
Over pumping of surface and groundwater
Inadequate institutional managerial plan for river basins
Absence of international agreement between FYROM and Greece for usage of Axios river


Overloading of organic and inorganic fertilizers in the river
Industrial sewages (partial biological process) all along the Axios flow
Urban sewages without further process
Reduction of river flow (especially in summer period)
Illegal building of industrial plants and small enterprises
Degrading of sensitive ecological zones
Water over holding of the existent dams
Mismanagement of irrigation system


Increased salinity
Increased pH during summer period
Scarcity of drinking and irrigated water
Alkaline of rice cultivation
Appearance of dangerous microorganisms in the mussel aquacultures (1998)


Important reduction of ornithological fauna in the river delta
Quantitative and qualitative degradation of rice cultivation
Reduction of coastal fishery
Erosion of economically exploitative land
Increased cost for monitoring and checking of drinking water
Steady qualitative degradation of mussels produced in coastal units (mussel farming)


Suggested managerial plans of the entire wetland ecosystem of Axios-Loudias-Aliakmon deltas and salt marsh of Kitros area (Prefecture of Thessaloniki 1992, Development Association 1994, ENVECO company 1999)
Pressure from non-governmental environmental organization for the restoration of landscape
Building of biological plant of Thessaloniki region


Environmental indicators
Institutional analysis of the existent regulations
Stakeholders Analysis
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Multi Criteria Decision Aid analysis with the multicriteria method Definite
Scenario analysis


Environmental Indicators

Orientation in the user needs-indicators has three functions: simplification, qualification and interactive communication with decision maker.
Selection of indicators will be based on timing and spacing scale, consisting of  environmental data and socio economic information.
Long term aim is the usage of indicators as an input in the Multi Criteria Decision Aid method.

Institutional Analysis

Investigation of the existent regulatory framework (national base, bilateral agreements with FYROM, European Directives, International Agreements)
Spatial analysis of group interest-peripheral policies
Basic affection factors in the suggested managerial plans

Stakeholders Analysis

Definition of the direct and indirect interests of the stakeholders from the potential implementation of a managerial plan
Co- ordination of focus groups with representative stakeholders groups
Definition of special weights of each group interest 
Formulation of final preferential characteristics
Enclosure of the stakeholder analysis in the multi criteria decision aid method DEFINITE

Cost Benefit Analysis

Spatial cost benefit evaluation of the following interest group:
Agricultural farmers (mainly rice farmers, 77% of entire Greek production)
Aquacultures (mainly mussel farmers, 90% of the Greek production)
Industrial factors (suggested expansion of industrial area of Thessaloniki region)
Urban expansion (suggestion from Thessaloniki municipality for partial diversion of Axios River)
Evaluation of the production function of the stakeholders above
Evaluation of the shadow products or by-products of the stakeholders
Setting of discount rate analogous to the risk grade
Conversion of all the criteria in financial basis
Search of the economically best solution (Pareto’s insufficiency) 


Multi Criteria Analysis (DEFINITE)

Setting of criteria
Setting of quantitative indicators
Setting of alternatives according with the three main scenarios
Analysis of the preferential relations according to the regional Advisory Board and the stakeholder’s analysis
Setting of weights and potential thresholds for the minimization of the subjectiveness of the criteria

nalysis of the potential scenarios with outranking methods or fuzzy sets, for the definition of a compromise solution

Conversion of the desirable scenarios in the corresponding desirable units

Scenario Analysis

Business as usual
Policy targets-driven scenario
Deep green scenario



  On the basis of the presentations and the discussions during the meeting the consortium identified that one of the major concerns for the Axios catchment group is related to the collection, organization and quality control of the environmental data required for the definition of trends, critical loads and also for the input into the models. In this aspect some general conclusions are the

The specific geography of the Thermaikos Gulf that receives discharges from Axios River, but also from the neighboring Aliakmon River and the city of Thessaloniki, forced us to consider collecting a basic data set for all these sources, thus adding  significant work in WP-1. However, this decision seems rational, as the project will benefit from this extra work. NCMR and IGME are already collecting data, which are partly available from previous research projects. As decided during the kick-off meeting in Hamburg, focus will be stressed on Nitrogen and Phosphorous loads, as well as some heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Zn, As).  Data on nutrients for the Greek part of the Axios catchment area are already available.

Heavy metals: The consortium agreed that heavy metals are mainly brought into Axios River from FYROM. In case that relevant data is available from FYROM, the team will proceed in modeling the relevant fluxes, otherwise this aim is difficult to be achieved.

GIS: the Arc/Info-Arcview background is already prepared and we are in the process of searching for relevant data from FYROM.

The second major problem in the implementation of the project deals with the definite lack of data from FYROM. The consortium agreed that we lack data from this area on water discharges, nutrient loads, point sources, hydroelectric dams, population density, land-use, etc., and also highlighted the difficulty in contacting scientists from FYROM.

Karamanos (IGME) reported for a recent contact with scientists from FYROM on the hydrological behavior of the river. This was the first encouraging contact after 4 months of efforts and a data set of water chemistry on a monthly basis (for one
year) was sent to IGME. We expect to maintain and enhance relations with this group. An invitation of some scientists to Greece is under consideration.

Skourtos (UoA) said that an uncoordinated approach to scientists from FYROM might be harmful in the long run. For this reason, he proposed an official 1st meeting with scientists and diplomats from both the Greek and FYROM catchment area and the consortium accepted this proposition. The organization of this meeting will take place next June (initial plan for the 1st fortnight) in the premises of the Ministry of External Affairs (Athens). The meeting will be organized by the Committee for the European Environmental Policy and International Agreements, an expert committee chaired by Skourtos; NCMR will
co-finance the meeting. An international expert on Hydrodiplomacy will be invited to act as facilitator of the discussion. 

A list of potential participants for the Policy Advisory Board was prepared, gathering representatives of ministries, organizations and local authorities. The team of UoA has taken the responsibility to send invitations where a brief description of the project will be presented. We scheduled the first PAB meeting to take place in September-October this year, followed by the 2nd Axios Catchment Consortium Meeting.

There was a consensus that people from FYROM should be included in the Policy Advisory Board. Through the External Affairs Ministry Committee a bilateral agreement between Greece and FYROM for the sustainable use of the Axios catchment area would be a long-term target.

The selection of appropriate models for the catchment and the coastal area was also discussed and focused on the use (or not) of ERSEM model. This particular model is quite complex and also has to be nested with a hydrodynamic model, which is not yet available for the gulf of Thermaikos. The group discussed the possibility of using the simpler steady-state model of LOICZ, the model CABARET. A meeting in Athens was decided to test the efficiency of the model using real data. The meeting was held (19-3-2001) and we (A. Karageorgis, N. Nikolaidis, P. Pagou, N. Skoulikidis, E. Krassakopoulou, and others) decided that CABARET would be sufficient for the needs of the project. 

Finally, for better use and dissemination of available data, exchange of information and facilitated collaboration of the research teams, we decided create a common cyberspace in one of the NCMR Servers. The Axios Group FTP site is now operational and login/password have been distributed to the Axios Catchment scientists.


The working plan for the next six months of the project was designed according to the specific needs and timetable of each work package. The main axes are the collection and organization of existing data, improvement of our relations with FYROM and participation in workgroup meetings. Scheduled actions are the following:



Kick-off meeting of EUROCAT (5&6-2-2001) Geesthacht (done)
1st Axios Catchment meeting (9&10-3-2001) Mytilini (done)
Meeting in Athens (19-3-2001) to test CABARET model efficiency (done)
Employment of one scientist
Sign of official subcontract NCMR-IGME
Participation in WP1 meeting in Oslo (A. Karageorgis)
Participation in the ‘Scenarios Workshop’ in Norwich (M. Skourtos)
Preparation of LOICZ questionnaire
Visit to IGME (Thessaloniki) to collaborate in data collection
Preparation (by UoA) of invitations to policy makers for the definition of the
Policy Advisory Board. Meeting scheduled for September-October-2001.
Preparation of ‘Integration’ questionnaire
Invitation of FYROM scientists or visit of Greek people to FYROM
Meeting with FYROM diplomats under the auspices of the Ministry of External Affairs
Participation in the ‘Indicator Workshop & Fluxes workshop’ (K. Pagou)
Collection and organization of data. Pre-evaluation of trends and critical