There is a close connection between the water policy, for which the main reference is Water Framework Directive (WFD), and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), even more evident in the new regulation of the CAP 2014-2020. Indeed, the interdisciplinary nature of water resources problems requires the integration of technical, economic and environmental aspects into a coherent analytical framework.
The main goal of this study was to apply a geo spatial analysis method in order to assess if the measures foreseen in the River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) and in the Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) 2014-2020 address agriculture pressure on water resources, in particular those linked to irrigation service. To provide an analytical framework, this assessment method was applied to all Italian River Basin Districts (RBDs), combining GIS data with publically available data to assess the impact and spatial distribution of agriculture pressures on water resources at provincial level. Twelve pressure indicators were identified, concerning qualitative and quantitative pressures on water resources and environmental constraints. Hierarchical cluster analysis of indicators was used to evaluate the existence of agricultural pressure or bundles of pressures. The results show that 16 different clusters were identified in the cluster analysis. There are two main clusters, characterized by average values of most indicators, which cover about 76% of the provinces. The others clusters show specific issue related to quantitative or qualitative problems, or environmental constraints and each includes a lower number of provinces.
Furthermore, there is a different spatial variability of clusters through national territory, with lower variability in Central and Southern Italy and higher variability in Northern Italy. The analysis method appears as a simple and effective way to identify the main issues at the province scale, highlighting that the agricultural sector could potentially activate policies as regional RDPs responding to the problems identified, contributing to the objectives of the RBMPs.