By Dr. F. van den Brink and B. Swanenvleugel MSc
How can we prevent floods in European border regions from causing fatalities, displacement of people, great economic losses and large impact on nature? Flood pulses are natural phenomena in rivers and problems arise when they interfere with spatial functions such as rural development. Since large international rivers do not respect administrative borders, why should we limit the focus of flood risk management to the area within these borders? Unbalanced flood management strategies may cause disproportional flooding and may harm the ecologic functions of the river and its floodplain. And,
intensive cooperation within the entire catchment area may result in more effective flood risk management strategies. Therefore, recent European water legislation such as the Water Framework Directive and the Flood Risk Management Directive aim at integrated water resources management on a river basin scale. Although transboundary cooperation within river basins is strongly advocated in these directives, an integrated river basin approach across borders still is far from common practice and often hampered by practical and legal obstructions.
Interreg IVC project FLOOD-WISE: aim and first results
In the European project FLOOD-WISE, which runs from 2010-2012, 15 partners from 6 international river basins (Elbe, Meuse, Western Bug, Somes, Rur and Sotla) work together to improve their integrated flood risk management by following a river basin approach. Operational and strategic flood risk managers and their cross-border counterparts jointly develop methods, measures and management plans for integrated flood risk management as input for the implementation of the FRMD in their own catchment area. The project follows the three phases of the FRMD: 1. preliminary flood risk assessment, 2. flood risk mapping and 3. flood risk management plan. The project results are communicated towards the international community through the project web (www.floodwise.eu) and via the EU web portal WISE-RTD (www.wise-rtd.info).
In FLOOD-WISE, project partners succeed to develop joint methods and strategies for their border regions, by exchange of data, staff exchanges and work shops. The ultimate goal is to develop joint flood risk management plans for the border regions involved. With still one and a half year to go, in the six river basins a joint preliminary flood risk assessment has been carried out, resulting in terms of reference for demands to harmonization of data and models in each basin. Partners in the Elbe, Meuse and Rur basin already developed flood hazard and flood risk maps for their cross border region, matching and integrating information from the countries and responsible organizations involved.
This article was written for the INBO newsletter, which will be issued end 2011