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Where is the Pilot Site? Back to top

The Schelde pilot site is located near the southwestern border of the Netherlands and Belgium and covers the tidally influenced part of the Schelde River. The Dutch part of the river is called ‘Westerschelde’ and is a typical estuary with multiple river branches and intertidal mud flats. In Belgium the tide is felt many kilometers upstream as far as the village of Rupelmonde. This part of the river is called the Zeeschelde.

Dike breach and flooding in the 1953 disaster
Why was this site chosen? Back to top

This pilot site is a classic example of flood management for an estuary along which many people live and work, with a valuable natural environment and navigation demands. In recent years discussions and studies have been going on both in the Netherlands and in Belgium with respect to the perceived risk of flooding, especially in view of the changing external conditions (such as sea level rise) and increasing value of assets under threat (for example expansion of urban and industrial areas).

Both the Dutch and Belgian governments have been working on an improved understanding of the risk through a number of studies. In Zeeuws Vlaanderen a pilot study was undertaken under the Veiligheid Nederland in Kaart project of Rijkswaterstaat.  In Belgium the updated Sigmaplan has just been ratified by Parliament. Simultaneously, the ProSes project is studying the opportunities and consequences of increased navigability of the Westerschelde, with due attention to safety and the natural environment.

Who is involved in the study? Back to top

The study involves regional management authorities, such as Rijkswaterstaat and the waterboard as well as the ProSes group coordinating the deepening of the navigation channel in the Westerschelde. In addition to these groups, local inhabitants along the Schelde have been interviewed and participate in workshops.

Village of Doel Schelde Pilot Study Area The Zeeschelde near Antwerp.
Village of Doel near the
nuclear power plant.
Map of the pilot study area The Zeeschelde near Antwerp.

What is the study for? Back to top

The pilot study will be used as a field test site for many other tasks within the FLOODsite project. For instance, flood models will be developed for the Westerschelde and used in combination with a scenario study to provide a forecast of flood risk in 2050.  Also a decision support tool for evacuation will be developed for the polders (areas of reclaimed land that were once part of the sea bed) adjacent to the Schelde.  Alongside these “scientific” research activities, a further study is being carried out into the perception of risk by local inhabitants compared to that of flood risk “professionals”. It will be interesting to see whether there are any significant differences.

How will the study benefit the people of the Schelde Estuary? Back to top

Improved forecasting of flood risk and the development of new or improved evacuation measures will help to reduce risks to people and property in the area of the estuary.

It is hoped that the study will generate a better understanding between professionals and lay people with regard to flood risk. This is of great value, because when it comes to awareness, preparedness and acceptance of flood management measures both parties need each other. The study will probably reveal differences in perception and hopefully also identify possible reasons for these differences.  This knowledge will help to improve communication between flood managers and inhabitants of the Schelde Estuary.

Where to find more information Back to top

Further details of this study can be found here.

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