The Soča river is a river located in western Slovenia and north-eastern Italy. In Italy the Soča river is called Isonzo. This transboundary river is 138 km long and takes its source in the Julian Alps and then flows into the Adriatic Sea. The Soča river basin has an area of 2320 km2 and is divided into 6 main sub-basins. The Soča river is a torrential-type river due to high precipitation. The “Emerald beauty” climate is continental and is one of the rarest rivers to conserve his green color. The upper Soča river is very seismic.

Fig 1 : Map of The Soča river 

(Source : http://biogeochemistry.uml.edu/pages/SloveniaHg.html)

- Hydrography :

    The flow from the Soča river depends on the rain and snow. The precipitation is 175 m3/s. Some areas are almost without surface running waters (mid southern area), due to karstic characteristics. The regime of the Soča upstream is an alpine type of snow rain with the first peat in May and June and the second is in October and November. The reason for a dry period in winter is due to low temperature and snow reticence. And the reason for the dry period in late summer is for a lack of precipitation and higher evapotranspiration.

The average runoff in PCS Soča basin is high (73%) as a result of its high precipitation (torrential nature), geology and high slopes. 

- Geology :

    The Soča Basin can be divided in two types of geo-lithology. In the upper parts we can find carbonate rocks, flysch, marine deep rocks with some areas with kartic characteristics. And the slopes are very steep. Whereas in the Valleys and lower sections, the land is covered by terrestrial alluvial deposits.

- Ecology :

    According to several water quality studies, the Soča river has a good or very good chemical and ecological status. This river contains a certain amount of mercury due to its presence in some of the rocks and also to the mines that are next to the Idrijca river.

There are four hydro-ecoregions present in the PCS Soča :

.   Alps – Adriatic sea,

. Evdinarid

.   Dinarid Mediterranean

.   Po Lowland

Different elements are used to determine the ecological status such as biological, hydro morpho logical, chemical and physicochemical.

-Human activities :

    Even though there´s almost no risk of flood along the Soca river there´s a risk for damage to bridges and roads. The risk flood is present in valleys that are flatter like Idrijica river. In the upper part of Soča tributary, an erosion hazard or landslides are present. 

- Tourism :

    The Soča river is a trademark for water sport. And some of the regions are known for the beauty of the hills or winegrowing areas. The ministry of tourism faces new challenges due to the Soca tourism is growing more and more.

- Hydropower :

    There is hydropower exploitation in the PCS Soca. The Upper Soča is protected by law against new hydropower infrastructure development which was adopted already in 1976.

Table 1 : The Number of HPPs and annual electricity production on PCS Soča.




Installed capacity

< 100 kW

100 kW to 1MW

1MW to 10MW

> 10 MW

Number of HPPs





Electricity annual production [GWh/a]





- Agriculture :

    The Goriška region has 63% of forest were land cultivation was not possible. Only 28% of land is suitable for agriculture and 83% represents pastures. In the lower parts of the Soca river we can find intensive agriculture where 11% are croplands and gardens, 3 % orchards and 3 % vineyards. It is estimated that 20% of land suitable for agriculture is overgrowth.

    The most important regions of agricultural are Vipaya valley and Slovenian part of lowland at Italian border (sub-mediterranean area). The hills of the Vipaya valley are for vineyards. In the lower river the climate is suitable for vegetables and fruit cultivation

Fig 2: Picture of the Vipaya Valley 

- Climate change :

    The climate change is affecting the river due to his dependence on snow and rain. There are warmer days and ice days are declining. The precipitations are decreasing in some periods and they are increasing in autumn. This changes can affect the agricultural activities, the protected species, the tourism activities and more.

- Environmental protection and nature conservation :

    There are many protected areas due to environmental on nature conservation regimes and Natura 2000. Some of the protected species are: Triturus carnifex, Unio crassus, Bombina vareigata, Salmo mamoratus

- Basin level governance :

    It´s important to understand that there is no formal transboundary basin authority, but there is a technical cooperation between Italy and Sloveniain coordinating their respective plans “The Permanent Italian-Slovenian Commission for Water Management”. Its objective is “studying all hydrological problems of common interest, proposing appropriate solutions, aiming to ensure the improvement of water and electricity supply in relation to international obligations assumed by the two Countries

   In Slovenia, national-level institutions are in charge of developing and implementing strategies, laws and regulations. There are no regional level institutions but local governments have responsibilities in the implementation of policies related to management of natural resources and environmental protection. The situation is different in Italy, where each region, especially the autonomous ones like Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG), have a significant degree of autonomy in self-government, legislation and administration.



II. Reference card

Fig 3 : Reference card of the catchment area of Soča river with his activities

Fig 4 : Spatial map of the bassin
(source : spare project)

III.Spatial Plan

Fig  5 : Spatial plan of the water catchment area of the Soča river. 

IV. Issues' analysis

          The soca Basin is part of a great natural richness. That is also a great attraction for tourist which allow a big economic entrance. There we can find different types of ecosystems, aquatics ecosystems (The Soca river for example), forests, and agricultural zones. There has to be mentioned that Soca, is protected by environmental conservatory regimes, such as protected areas, Natural values and ecologically important areas. Nevertheless , for this same reason the whole basin has different types of challenges (issues). In this part of the study, we separate these challenges in 3: economic challenges, social challenges, environmental challenges (normally all these issues are related between them)

- Economic Challenges :

    The wonders of Soca include a variety of attractions, such as the Triglav National Park, the enchanting winegrowing areas of Goriška Brda ,the Vipava Valley, and the hills around Cerkno and Idrija. The most distinctive point of attraction is “The Emeral River Soca”, where numerable water sports are available. Since the beginning of this economic entrance, as a result of tourism, also the number of challenges have increased: improve the organization, making the different activities friendly with the local natural resources, remember that Soca River is a powerful river, and the most important thing, make the incomes for local development.

One of the resources better used in the Soca Basin, is “Hydropower Potential”. Large number of Hpp are installed in the whole basin, which generate incomes as a result of hydraulic energy of water. Nevertheless, in the basin of Soca they are approximately 105 Hpp, but just one produce 85 % of the total energy, which means that an imbalance exist in terms of production of energy. In this case, the challenge is to promote an equitable production of energy (more HPPS producing more energy), taking in to account that 104 HPPs produce just 15 % of the total. Another challenge is to maintain the production sustainable with the environment, knowing that the construction of the buildings produces different ecological impacts.

- Environmental challenges : 

    The Soca River is known as a very clean river, according to the status in very good or good chemical and ecological status. Nevertheless, and as a result of the good management of the area, there is a lot of environmental challenges:

. The “Idrijca River” as the largest sub-basin of PCS Soča brings annualy arround 890 kg of mercury into Soča River as a result of the natural content of the element in some rocks and 500-year mining in Idrija accumulation.  So, one of the biggest challenges for the Soca River, is to solve the problem of the accumulation of mercury, that also can create different types of social problems.

. Along the Soca River there is no major flood risk, that mostly occurs on its tributary of Idrijca and on Vipava Tributary. The major floods events has occurred in October 2004, September 2010, and October 2012.  So, for this case, the challenge is to create an prevention system adaptable to all type of flood risk.

. In terms of agriculture, the Soca Region, is most a country type region, there is a lot of forests which indicates that farming is not possible in almost all the basin. Around 28 % of land is suitable for agriculture. 83 % of that represents pastures. Intensive agriculture is suitable mostly in areas of Nova Gorica, Vipava valley and Goriška brda. Based on estimation of intensiveness of land 20 % of agricultural zones are overgrowth. In mountain areas the trend of overgrowth declines cultural characteristics of the landscapes, which makes the number of farmer decrease.  For this situation, there has to be found a solution for allowing the farmers continue making agriculture, taking in to account that there are places in the basin that land is suitable for farming.

. In the Region of Soča, the new tendency of environmental laws has been applied. Thanks to that, nowadays the whole basin has protected areas and ecologically important areas. The challenge in this case, is to maintain the good work that they´ve done with the natural resources, especially with all the restrictions they´ve made.

- Social Challenges :

    As we have mentioned before, almost all the economic and environmental challenges are related to society, because they have an direct impact in the population. Also there has to be mentioned that the SI-I Comission for water management (the association who organizes periodical meetings with the population) has to be continued. The management of Soca River is connected to Italy, and to achieve a good administration between the 2 country’s , it is necessary that the people should be organized.

V.Social and politique analysis - Actors





The state



Regions (Italy)




-Improve of farming production

- Implementation of bio-agriculture

-Implementation of new irrigation techniques

-Economic interests

-Environmental interests



-Technical cooperation (Reduction of the pollution)

- Feed the tourist.

-Ecological impact (Quality of water)

-Cultural Contribution (local identiy)


-Technical cooperation (Reduction of the pollution


-Payment of taxes

-Rights claims


-Payment of taxes

- Rights claims

-Creation of local jobs

-Provide food for the population

- -Ecological impact (Quality of water)



-Economic interests

-Environmental interests


-Improvement of the industrial production



Quality of water (new depuration technologies)

Ecological impact (quality of water)Challenge

-Technical cooperation (Reduction of the pollution


-Payment of taxes

-Rights claims

-Payment of taxes

- Rights claims

-Economic interests (creation of local jobs)



-Consume local products

-Promote local identity

- Promote the local industrial activities

- Improve local tourism activities

- Promote the local identity

-Payment of taxes

- Implementation of local laws



Payment of taxes 

- Implementation of local laws


-Creation of local jobs


-Creation of local identity

The state (Slovenia)

-Subvention and technical support

-Monitoring quality of water (ecological monitoring)

Subvention and technical support

-Monitoring quality of water (ecological monitoring)


-Promote local identity

- Keep the quality of water according the local laws.


Implementation of a tax regulation, according to the local reality

-Keep the quality of water according the local laws.

- Implementation of a tax regulation, according to the local reality

-Local monitoring


Regions (Italy)

-Subvention and technical support

-Monitoring quality of water (ecological monitoring)

-Subvention and technical support

-Monitoring quality of water (ecological monitoring)


-Promote local identity

- Keep the quality of water according the local laws.

- Implementation of a tax regulation, according to the local reality

- Keep the quality of water according the local laws.

- Implementation of a tax regulation, according to the local reality

-Local monitoring


-Buy the local production

-Workforce for local industries

-monitoring of water quality

- workforce in local tourism

-Construction of local identity

- Local monitoring

-Local monitoring.

Protecting local resources by local monitoring


VI.Fonctionnal Plan of Actors / Issues / Resources

Figure 6 : Functional Plan between the differents actors and issues/impacts.


- Water :

    In the Soca Basin, water is the main point of discussion. The bigger problem turns out to be the quality of water, not quantity, as a result of the industrial and agricultural activities upriver, in this sense the Italian part is the most affected. Is also important to mention that this resource is vital for tourism, one of the incomes of the whole basin, specially talking in extremes sports.

    In general terms, water is related to almost every economic, social and environmental aspect of Soca Basin, that´s why is important to analyse the relation between the different actors and the importance of water for each them.

    There are clean water (W) and waste water (W).

- Fauna (F) : 

    For this case, the fauna of the basin is represented by the fishes. One of the most important ecosystem service in this water system. Mostly in the Italian part, fishing is one of the most main water users, just below of hydropower, agricultural irrigation and recreation. 

- Heritage (H) : 

    Heritage match to the beauty of the bassin. It's necessary to maintain tourism activities. 

- Money (€) : 

    In a general sense, money represents the way of doing trades. Each social actor, in representation of their own interest, can arrange to different kinds of agreements between the government, or even with the others social actors, taking in to account “the money”.


VIII. Actor's roles

We decided to separate actors in  two teams : Slovenia and Italy. There are farmers, representatives of tourism and private compagnies (energy and industrial plants). 

Each actors have to develop their activities. They begin with 2 "activies" cards, and a different quantity of money.

Money at the begining of the game : 

  • Farmers : 6€
  • Toursim : 5€

  • Private compagnies : 8€


  • Activities :

The activities cards represent the human activities. They are separate between the three actors of the area : farmers, private companies / industries, tourism. To begin a new activity, it costs € €. For each card, on the left, we can see the price of operating cost and the resources necessary. On the right, we can see the impact and the activities and the benefit. When a resource is written with * , it’s necessary to use the card, but there is no impact.

If an activity doesn't have ressouces needed to be used, it is bankrupt and does not earn money.

To delate an activity, the price is € €. 

Fig 7 : The differents activities cards of the game.

  • Action :

The action cards can be used after the seconds turn. Each actors can buy them for the price indicate on the card. Each card of action can be equip on activity card. An activity card can be equiped by may action cards. 

For the card '' Sensibilisation of population'', the town can only benefit a once. On the card, the diamond represents the heritage.

Fig 8 : The differents actions cards of the game.

  • Community :

During the game, at the end of every round the community cards can be shown.  These cards are used for global purposes, for example a global budget. When the round finish, all the players have the right to discuss what it´s better for them. It has to be mentioned that the community cards is between the two countries. We decided to add this rule to achieve a global discussion  with all the actors of the game.

Fig 9 : The differents community cards of the game.

X.Structure of the model and of the game

To play at this game we need :

- 1 game board: with the differents specific zones of the area (agricultural zone, fishing zone, cities ...)
- 1 dice : with 6 faces representative the various scenario.
- 1 big pots : for the main river 
- 4 others pots : two of them for the tributaries of Soca river and the others for the tanks of the dams.

- Differents actions cards : to represent the improvements of the differents actors. (the cards with a circle in the rear face)
- Differents activities cards : to represent the activities of the actors. (the cards with a cross in the rear face)
- Differents community cards : to represent the differents rules imposed for the actors of the game. 
Sticky paste : to stick the cards on the game board

- Red beans : to represent the polluted water
- Chickpeas : to represent the safe water
- Noddles : to represent the money of the game  

- Some pieces to represent the fishs in the rivers and the heritage of the territory.

Fig 10 : Illustration of the game board

Fig 11 : Illustration of the differents parts of the pieces to play at the game

Fig 12 : Illustration of the differents cards of the game.

XI.Rules of the game

The players begin the game with two activity cards. The action cards can be used from the round 2.

  .  Progress of a round :

-At the beginning of each round, all the players have to decide what activity they are going to invest. All of them have the right to put 2 activities minimum each one. Every activity has a price.

- The water flows along the river and it is consumed and polluted by every activity. The player takes random water (in every activity installed) of the glass. It represents the water in the river. If a player doesn't have enough clean water(taken of the glass) to use his activity, this one fails, and doesn't generate money for this round.

- Every city contributes also with the water pollution, the administration of water sanitation in all the cities is in charge of the industries of each country.  

-  While the glass continues his way down to the bottom of the map, the river is getting more and more polluted (result of the pollution of every activity)

-At the end of every round, there is has to be at least 3 activities working (in global) and the river needs fewer than 40 % of the total pollution (40 % of the pollution coins), otherwise none of the players is going to received what they´ve invested.

-  For the next rounds, action and community cards can be revealed. Also it is going to be an aid from the Eropean Union for the global budget (and aid of 6 coins of money). This money can be used for gloabl purposes 


- Amount of water : to know if the season is dry or wet, a dice is thrown at the beginning of the round, after the payment for activity cards.








2, 3, 4, 5










2, 3, 4, 5






Tab 2 : Amount of water by season and results of dice’s result


- Flood : during the winter, if the season is wet, there are floods. Every activity in upstream of Nova Gorica, can’t be used. A heritage is destroyed on the activity cards of tourism.

- Fishes : if there is more than 50% of polluted water in the river, a fish dies, and fishing isn’t possible. Every two turns, there is a new fish on the area. If a dam is in downstream, there isn’t reproduction, and no new fish. A fish’s pass can be used on the dam to change that. If there are no fish, reproduction isn’t possible. The price to reintroduce them is 1€.

- Tourism : every cards about tourism make more money the summer (+1€), but water is more polluted (keep a W in the river for a W).

- Heritage : every two rounds, an heritage is deleted. It’s assimilated at the degradation of the place. To recover it, the price of 1€.

- Town : the cities don't take water in the river but they reject waste water. Drilling supply them in drinkable water. Tolmin rejects 2W and Nova Gorica and Gorizia 3W. The player ''industry'' manages the cities.

- Idrijia : the tributary of Idrijia is contamined by mercury. 3W and 3W come into the Soca each round.

- Dam : the dam are full at the begining of the game. When the flow come on a dam, water of dam is mixing with river's water. After that, 4W are taken random and put in the dam. The rest continues to flow. They product electricity only if the activity card ''hydropower plant'' is on.

 .  Illustration of one round : 

Fig 13 and 13 bis : Pictures of the begining of the round.

-    On these pictures, we can see that the actors start to place their different cards in the zones linked at their activities. An actor is only allowed to place two cards by country. Moreover, we place the different pieces, we distribute the money… And the game can start. Each actor choose what cards he activates with his money. 

Fig 14 ,15 and 16 : Pictures of the process of the round.

-    The next 3 pictures show the course of the game and the specificities of situation in this water catchment area. During the downstream along the Soca, we need to follow the instructions on the cards and we have to add the contribution of the tributaries of the main river. 


Fig 17 and 17 bis : Pictures of the end of the round.

-    At the end of the round we can do a balance of the pollution in the river and a decision is announced about the quality of the water. If the decision is good then nothing change, else there are some sanctions. To make another round, we add a new rule represented by the community card. On this round we add the “round 1” card, and we start again.


At the beginning, the game system was thought bearing in mind all the social actors and all the natural and economic resources of the Soca Basin. When we have first tested the game, the relation between the social actors and the resources, was not really clear. Thanks to our colleagues and teachers, we have seen positives and negatives things of our game.

First calibration:  The first trial was with our colleagues. At this moment the game was not calibrated at all. We did have some troubles to find a balance between the money and water pollution. Also, the players did not have many choices, in other words, their role was just to pay what they want to invest, without thinking in what might happen after. When we realized all the problems in the dynamic of the game, we decided to modify certain rules, and incorporate others.

Second Calibration: The second trial, was with people who was not related to the domain of water at all. We decided to play with 2 different teams; one team for Slovenia and one team for Italy. In this opportunity, the relation between the actors, the money and the pollution was more clear. Also we decided to add “the actions cards”, which allows the players to have more choices at the time to choose what to do in the water system. Whit these action cards we achieved the objective of the game, who was to reach a final agreement between all the social actors at the end of each tour.


Cooplan is a tool for the elaboration of a strategy and action plan. It is organized in 6 points :

-          organisation : identify actors

-          guideline : time and impacts

-          proposition of the actors

-          integrate the actions

-          choice of the strategy

-          choice of the responsibility and operate

Our strategy shows the main resources needed. There is money, but will too. So, for his success, the actors have to be involved.  It’s a social and a political choice important, and actors have to be helped to adopt new practices.

The impacts are on the environment: quality of water, animals will enjoy. The farms (mainly in Italia) are the most important actors. In fact, their actions will be decisive. The economy around the Soca shouldn’t be impact


XIV.Test Results

The water at the end of each round is shown in the next table. 

 RoundActivites  Cooplan SeasonClean water Polluted water
 1 2 NoWet summer 17 18
Winter 16 13
5 3Yes
Summer 16 13

Round 1Fishing at the end à the round 1 is forbidden in the down stream of the river. Pollution's problems are present at the begining. The tourism has a hgh impact on it.

Fig 18 : Picture of the end of the round 1

Round 2 : We have less pollution, because tourism is less important than summer. The decrease of the flow is the effect of the new activities. But, 2 activites are failled because there is too much pollution. 

Fig 19 : Picture of the end of the round 2

Round 5 : No activity is failled. There is less than 50% of pollution in the river. Action cards of Cooplan reduces pollution generate by cities, tourism, farming and plants. 

Fig 20 : Picture of the end of the round 5


The representation of this kind of games allowed us to understand the difficulty of water management with different kind of social actors. The most difficult work was to integrate in every process, even in the game, or in the group discussions, “the participatory vision”, wich according to us is the main point of this kind of work. 

 In terms of natural resources management, this kind of experience could allow the different social actors to visualize in a differ way the whole water system, in order to understand that every action is related, and every solution should be based by taking in to account the different realities.

In a personal way, to achieve the objective of this kind of word, we did have to share all our knowledge, knowing that all the members of the group have different backgrounds and above all different opinions. 

Documents supports (types)

- carte générale
- usages du sol
- hydrographie
- données hydro / pluvio
- distrib de populations
- activités économiques
- productivité des activités agricoles
- données tourisme quand c'est le cas
- données conso urbaine (type SONEDE) si dispo
- tous rapports sur le cas
- des photos éventuellement