ECOtones for Reducing Diffusion Pollution

Project objectives:

The main causes of the eutrophication of water bodies are discharge of pollution, mainly nutrients: nitrogen and phosphorus, from both point sources (e.g. sewage treatment plants) and diffuse sources. The diffuse sources of pollution are estimated today to account for 50% of the runoff of nutrient compounds from the territory of Poland; hence, reduction in the point sources of pollution, however indispensable and significant, does not suffice. The measures to be undertaken under the project concentrate on diffuse pollution mainly generated by agricultural activities. One of the tools instrumental in protecting water ecosystems from diffuse pollution is making use of the potential of ecotones.

The goal of the project is setting up a program of activities for reducing diffuse pollution in the basin of the Pilica River by means of cost-effective ecohydrologic methods, that will help achieve a good ecological status of water in the Sulejowski Reservoir.

Another goal is preparation of a manual for optimal ecotone formation, with special attention being paid to the effectiveness of diffuse pollution removal and formation of biodiversity.

It is planned to construct, calibrate and optimize typologically diversified ecotones using vegetation communities that have their habitat in the Pilica River basin. While constructing the ecotones, it is planned to use, as an innovative element, so-called denitrification walls” that constitute a barrier protecting from the inflow of nitrates from agricultural drainage area, but also from areas unprovided with the sewer systems. The project also aims at optimizing technologies that are used to construct ecotones through innovative application of bioactive geononwovens that help plants take roots and establish.

One of the project goals is creation of a demosite that will present the possibilities of introducing the proposed measures in other areas. The demosite will comprise ecotones constructed in the direct drainage area of the Sulejowski Reservoir. It is planned to install a network of piezometers for monitoring the quality of underground water that indicates the performance of the ecotones. The demosite will be used to train specialists, as well as pupils, students, and the local community.

For diffusion pollution to be successfully reduced it is necessary to raise the environmental awareness of a local community. Building of the ecotones within the reservoir area and in the river valleys still awaits the necessary acceptance. In order to demonstrate that the ecotones not only do not impede, but simply facilitate recreation, it is planned to set up proper infrastructure, for instance, by providing paths and jetties within the area of the constructed ecotones.

Another key factor that is crucial to success is involvement of the local authorities, associations and investors. The project assumes the establishment of Multi-Stakeholders Platform to ensure their cooperation during the course of the project, and continued activity after its completion.

Actions and means involved:

  • Action 1. Formation of the ecotones
  • Action 2. Monitoring ecotone effectiveness
  • Action 3. Preparation of a manual for ecotone formation
  • Action 4. Development of a program of actions based on cost-effective ecohydrologic methods for reducing the diffusion pollution in the Pilica River Basin, helping achieve a good status of water in the Sulejowski Reservoir.
  • Action 5. Establishment of Multi-Stakeholder Platform
  • Action 6. Raising environmental awareness of the local community
  • Action 7. Project promotion
  • Action 8. Project management
  • Action 9. Communication plan following project completion

Expected results (outputs and quantified achievements):


  1.  A document identifying areas that are crucial to reducing diffusion pollution discharged to the Reservoir via the Pilica River, the Luciąża River and from the direct drainage area.
  2. A map recommending areas to be used as ecotones in the Pilica River and the Luciąża River valleys, and in the direct drainage area of the Sulejowski Reservoir.
  3. Exemplary ecotones located in the strategic sites of the direct drainage area of the Sulejowski Reservoir, reducing diffusion pollution.
  4.  Instrumentation (piezometers) of the model systems located in the Field Station being an exemplary element used to educate specialists, pupils and students
  5. A manual for ecotone formation.
  6. An action plan based on cost-effective ecohydrologic methods for reducing diffusion pollution in the Pilica River basin, helping achieve a good ecological status of water in the Sulejowski Reservoir, and having the form of instructions for the decision makers.


  1. Increased social awareness and acceptance of the proposed solutions.
  2. Establishment of multi-stakeholder platform that will engage them into joint actions focusing on the drainage area of the Sulejowski Reservoir with a view to reducing diffusion pollution and ensuring a good ecological status of the Reservoir.