Flood risk management – new partners in East Germany

Published: 15 February 2017

A trade mission led by Liliane Ploumen took place to the German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia last week. The goal was to include the promotion of trade, mutual investments and technological cooperation in the fields of photonics, semiconductors, bio-based chemistry and water. Deltares was one of the Dutch organisations participating in the mission.

Arrival at Dresden, Saxony

On 7 February 2017 Maya Sule and I, together with our 2 colleagues Daniel Bachmann and Ulrich Förster, travelled to Dresden. We met Wout de Vries (RWS) and Bas Jonkman (TU Delft) already at the airport. Torsten Heyer from TU Dresden welcomed us warmly and gave us a guided tour in the new research laboratory of the research group of hydraulic engineering. It was a very modern facility where interesting experiments were performed for projects as well as for educational purposes. Ongoing experiments include fish ladders, dam spillways, and a river flume with sediments – often in cooperation with industry.

Workshop Dresden

The next Morning we have a workshop at the Saxony Ministry for Environment and Agriculture. It is a lively and well-prepared knowledge exchange between Dutch en German universities, governmental institutions and Deltares as a knowledge institute. Facts, strategies and innovative approaches are subjects of presentations and discussions: how is flood protection organized, what are crucial experiences in Germany, and how can we investigate cascading effects of critical infrastructure in case of a flooding? The discussion is not yet closed, and will be continued. We aim for a visit of our new German partners in Delft.

Grimma – a special situation

The small town of Grimma set the venue for an excursion and symposium on Thursday, 9.2. The town experienced major flooding twice, 2002 and 2013. Although the flood protection project started right after the first flooding, the technical challenges are that high that it is planned to be finished only in 2019. The normal discharge of the river can change from 60m3/s in a normal situation to above 2000 m3/s in a flood situation, and worse, the water does not only flood the city ‘normally’ by flooding embankments, but via the very pervious material via the underground. So what you see is a nice new city wall for flood defence, but what you can’t see is a 12m deep closure in the ground over a length of 2 km. A perfect place for discussing flood protection solution and crisis management!

In the afternoon we had an interesting symposium on flood risk management and resilient cities. In four round table discussion German and Dutch approaches on River flooding, Governance, Crisis management and the role of IT in awareness and early warning were thoroughly discussed. Which steps need to be taken to interest the young generation for flood risk management, and which role can apps play to raise awareness of flood risk? It was a perfect setting for new ideas, information and contacts.

Presentation in Dessau

After Grimma the participants of the Water Mission went to Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt. Minister Schultz-van Haegen and her Royal Highness Queen Maxima and his Royal Highness King Willem-Alexander, joined the group to see the results of this first mission to Saxony-Anhalt and to listen to experiences, new ideas and first cooperation steps. We presented the Circle approach for cascading effect on critical infrastructure and the outcome of a disaster management discussion.

Next steps

During this very interesting week we could make new contacts. We agreed also together with TU Delft and RWS to initiate next steps, such as a workshop held in the Netherlands for our new German partners. We will explore the possibilities of master thesis and internship projects at Deltares for TU Dresden students, and see if we can bring the research work done at the group of prof. Stamm closer together with our topics and projects.