SMAT Project: Climate Change and Groundwater resources

Principal Investigator for CNR-IGG: Antonello Provenzale (

Climate change impacts people, societies, economic sectors and ecosystems through the interaction of danger, vulnerability and exposure. In a proactive view of water resources management, adaptation to climate change impacts is one of the most pressing challenges for the next decades.

Climate changes affect the quantity and quality of water resources, water demand, and the whole water distribution infrastructure. For these reasons, it is essential to understand how water resources respond to climate change in the most general terms, including the design of new distribution and sewage infrastructures, of adaptable water purification strategies, as well as the identification of a variety of possible water sources and management actions.

SMAT (Società Metropolitana Acque Torino S.p.A.) manages the distribution of water resources in a wide and geographically complex area. The water sources used today are quite diverse, and groundwater resources (wells and springs) contribute to about 80% of the total drinking water provided by SMAT. Understanding how these groundwater resources respond to climate change is thus a compelling need.

This research project will estimate, at the geographical scale of the area managed by SMAT (ATO3 in Piedmont, Italy) and on a future time scale of a few decades, the vulnerability to climate change of the groundwater resources used for drinking purposes, as well as their interaction with surface waters. Water vulnerability will be explored both in quantitative and qualitative terms, that is, also in terms of the physical-chemical water characteristics.

The final results of the project, based on probabilistic approaches and devising different potential water rescources scenarios, will form a quantitative basis for defining future guidelines and strategic developments in infrastructure planning and water management and provisioning.