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FREEWAT is an HORIZON 2020 project financed by the EU Commission under the call WATER INNOVATION: BOOSTING ITS VALUE FOR EUROPE. FREEWAT main result is an open source and public domain GIS-integrated modeling environment for the simulation of groundwater quantity and quality, with an integrated water management and planning module. FREEWAT aims at promoting water resource management by simplifying the application of the Water Framework Directive and other EU water-related Directives. To this scope, the FREEWAT platform results from the integration in the QGIS Desktop of spatially distributed and physically-based codes (mostly belonging to the USGS MODFLOW family), which allow to get a deep insight in groundwater dynamics, taking into account the space and time variability of stresses which control the hydrological cycle. This is attempted in a unique GIS environment, where large spatial datasets can be managed and visualized. In this paper, a review of the tools/modules integrated in FREEWAT for data pre-processing and model implementation is provided. FREEWAT applicability was demonstrated through running 14 case studies, in the general framework of an innovative participatory approach, which consists in involving technical staff and relevant stakeholders (in primis policy and decision makers) during modeling activities, thus creating a common environment to enhance science and evidence-based decision making in water resource management.
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