Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 5, Issue 2–3, pp 111–137 | Cite as

The Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) approach for integrated catchment-coastal zone management: preliminary application to the Po catchment-Adriatic Sea coastal zone system

  • N. Pirrone
  • G. Trombino
  • S. Cinnirella
  • A. Algieri
  • G. Bendoricchio
  • L. Palmeri
Original article


The European Water Policy and, in particular, the Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC introduced the necessity to evaluate new methodological approaches for the development of Water Management Strategies oriented to support Sustainable Development. In the context of the EUROCAT Project, the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework was identified as a possible analysis framework for the development of management strategies according to the European Water Policy. An ad-hoc DPSIR framework was developed for the Po River Catchment and the North Adriatic coastal zone in order to elaborate possible strategies for controlling and/or reducing eutrophication. This approach combines socio-economic analysis with spatial analysis of pollutant transport and impact on the catchment-coastal zone system. The preliminary evaluation of the DPSIR approach highlighted the fact that the major Driving forces are agriculture and livestock activities and the civil and industrial sectors. Before establishing possible management strategies, it is necessary to assess the relevance of each Driving force on eutrophication in terms of Pressure factors. Combining socio-economic analysis with the evaluation of major nutrient pathways, it is possible to understand the relationship between the socio-economic development of the Po basin and eutrophication in coastal zone. The nutrient loads, i.e. the Pressures deriving from each Driver were evaluated in terms of potential and effective loads. Fifty-one percent of the Nitrogen load (carried in superficial waters) derives from agriculture and livestock (fertilizer use and manure spreading), while 40% from civil and industrial sectors. Concerning phosphorus loads the major contribution is provided by civil and industrial sectors (62% of total phosphorus load). The DPSIR development permits the identification of the impact of socio-economic development on the qualitative state of both marine and superficial waters in terms of interaction between the trophic system and ecological conditions. The qualitative state of the Po River and the main tributaries ranges between the sufficient and good levels evaluated using the Macro-descriptor Pollution Level Index (LIM). The bulk of nutrients discharged into the North Adriatic coastal zone generate the change of environmental conditions in terms of loss of water qualitative state. The assessment of the water qualitative state for marine waters was performed using an appropriate indicator the Trophic Index (TRIX) according to the Italian legislative framework (Dlgs. 152/1999). Knowledge of the main biogeochemical processes of nutrients and the assessments of DPSIR components is the starting point for the scenario analysis.


DPSIR Catchment Coastal zone Eutrophication Database GIS Socio-economic Po River Adriatic Sea 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Pirrone
    • 1
  • G. Trombino
    • 1
  • S. Cinnirella
    • 1
  • A. Algieri
    • 1
  • G. Bendoricchio
    • 2
  • L. Palmeri
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Rende, c/o Polifunzionale Università della CalabriaCNR- Institute for Atmospheric PollutionItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento dei Processi Chimici dell’IngegneriaUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly

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