H2020 program / Horizon Europe


Preventing groundwater contamination related to global and climate change through a holistic approach on managed aquifer recharge

Principal Investigator
Team Leader

Marisa Almeida is a senior researcher at CIIMAR with ca. 140 international publications. With a PhD in Chemistry (obtained in 2003) her main research area is phytoremediation, participating actively in studies that aim to potentiate the use of these biotechnological tools as nature-based solutions to improve and recover aquatic environments contaminated with different pollutants. Her expertise is on environmental chemistry applied to coastal and estuarine environments and on phytoremediation of contaminants in natural and constructed wetlands for environmental recovery. She also actively participates in dissemination and communication activities in the frame of CIIMAR outreach projects on water and ocean literacy.

Co-Principal Investigator
Team Leader

I’m a biologist and the leader of the Fish Ecology and Sustainability research team. My primary research area is marine ecology, specifically concerning fish communities. I’m particularly interested in understanding how human activities, including marine litter and microplastics, impact ecosystems and their ability to provide services and societal benefits. In my research, I’ve been employing innovative approaches to leverage stakeholder knowledge, as Fishers Ecological Knowledge, and provide scientific support to environmental managers and decision-makers. Throughout my career, I’ve bridged the gap between science and society, advocating for stakeholder integration in science, fostering collaborative solutions for environmental issues, and promoting Ocean Literacy.


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The impact climate and global change (CC and GC) is endangering human health, food security and biodiversity. Urgent action is needed to achieve 2030 zero pollution goals. MAR2PROTECT will provide a holistic approach to prevent groundwater (GW) contamination from GC and CC impacts based on a new-generation managed aquifer recharge (MAR).

The core of the innovative MAR is the M-AI-R DSS that will incorporate technological and societal engagement information using an AI-based evaluation to improve GW quality. To ensure a high replication potential, M-AI-R DSS will collect information from 5 demo sites in EU (PT, IT, ES, NL) and 2 in non-EU countries (TN, ZA) which were carefully chosen by their degree of maturity from previous successful projects and a wide range of settings in terms of climatic conditions, water sources, type of pollution, MAR scheme and political/societal context. All technologies will be tested and validated until TRL5. MAR2PROTECT will ensure a strong engagement of civil society in GW prevention actions, up to a SRL equal to 6. The project will involve national and EU policy makers that, in collaboration with a Community of Practice formed by worldwide experts, will guarantee the strengthening EU policy for the prevention of GW contamination. Thanks to its holistic approach and to the high replicability of its results, MAR2PROTECT will lead to a marked enhancement in GW protection across the EU and beyond, and to the generation of knowledge for the transition to a sustainable water management. The consortium includes 8 partners and 1 affiliated entity from 6 different EU-countries and Switzerland and 2 international partners from Tunisia and South Africa: 2 Universities (UNIBO, KTU), 7 RTOs (NOVA-COO, CIIMAR, CETAND +AQUA, IHE, IT, ISSBAT, SUWI) and 1 Association (FEUGA). In addition, the inclusion of 3 large water utilities as associated partners and a policy maker from ZA will lead to a relevant enhancement of the project impact.

CIIMAR will assess the potential of saltmarshes to retain / uptake pollutants, preventing pollution of the watershed and consequently of the underlying aquifer. Studies will be carried out in laboratory microcosms as well as in situ at Lima estuary, Portugal which was selected as a Demo site.


Leader Institution
NOVA ID FCT - Associação para a Inovação e Desenvolvimento da FCT
Horizon Europe
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