Strategic deployment of Dutch water expertise in Colombia

Published: 3 September 2015

Minister Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and the Environment is in Colombia this week, leading an economic mission that includes representatives from seventeen Dutch companies and organisations, including Deltares. Alongside the primary focus on integrated water management, there will also be opportunities to look at harbour development, inland shipping and urban development.

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Delft-FEWS: a nationally-recognised system for high-water forecasting in Colombia

Colombia suffered severe flooding in 2010 and 2011. Since then the Netherlands has started to work together more closely with Colombia, for example on a Coastal Protection Master Plan and a Room for the River project for the Cauca river. And in 2012, Colombia switched to the hydrological forecasting system supplied by Deltares, Delft-FEWS (Flood Early Warning). The system allows local hydrologists to make their own predictions for water levels and river discharges, and it has now gone operational for the Magdalena, Bogota and Cauca rivers.

Otto de Keizer, a Deltares flood expert: ‘Delft-FEWS received an enthusiastic welcome in Colombia. The main benefit of the system is that information is available immediately, so there is more time to take action or to warn people about imminent flooding.’

Memorandum of Understanding between Deltares and sister institute IDEAM

One item on the agenda of the economic mission this week was the signing of the MoU by Deltares and the Institute for Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM). On Tuesday, 1 September, the two institutes agreed to collaborate intensively and to share knowledge relating to flood risk management, water quality, drought and the environment. In addition to substantive knowledge in this area, Deltares has extensive experience with modelling. That expertise will be very useful to IDEAM for the establishment of their National Hydrometeorological Modelling Centre. Unit manager Gerard Blom signed on behalf of Deltares and director Omar Franco signed for IDEAM.

During the ceremony, Omar Franco emphasised the importance of the technological and scientific collaboration between his institute and Deltares over the past three years and stated his intention to continue down that road in the years to come. Minister Schultz gave a speech in which she put the spotlight on Deltares as an international top institute that shares its knowledge fairly and openly.

Contracts for Dutch business

In addition to extending the intensive relationship in the area of water, the mission will also put Dutch business in a better position for contracts generated by the Colombian government’s infrastructure programme.