£3.8M award for Dutch river research
A river-management research project, led by the University of Twente in the Netherlands, has been awarded a £3.8M award by the state-funded agency Technology Foundation STW. The Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works & Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) is undertaking significant measures to help this low- lying country be better prepared for climate change.
According to the university, rivers have lost space and many need to be substantially restructured. Furthermore, the ground behind dykes has sunk and it rains more frequently, so the risk of flooding is increasing.
Professor Suzanne Hulscher, of Twente’s Department of Water Engineering & Management (WEM), is responsible for the management of the RiverCare programme. She said: "We measure exactly what the consequences are of particular measures on a river. At the moment, this does not happen often enough.
“Managing rivers costs a lot of money. We can tackle this management much more intelligently if we know what happens. This produces enormous cost savings."
Dr Mascha van der Voort, from the Department of Design, Production & Management, is working on a ‘virtual river’ within the project. The model will show what the consequences of certain measures might be and gives insight into future occurrences.
The university says the knowledge from the project will build on international Dutch expertise in the field of river flooding. The universities of Utrecht, Nijmegen, Delft and Wageningen are also participating in the programme.
RiverCare will be used in the Dutch government’s Space for the River projects. At more than 30 locations along the Rhine, IJssel, Waal, Lower Rhine and Lek, interventions such as dyke relocation, floodplain excavation, floodplain widening and water storage are taking place.
Following the problems with high water in 1993 and 1995, the government launched a number of programmes to improve the protection from flooding for the more than 4M Dutch people living in the river basins.
Hulscher said: "We don't really know what happens subsequently with the bed, banks and floodplains. Thanks to RiverCare, we can gain control of the changes to the rivers during the coming 10 to 50 years, both physically and biologically.”
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