RiverCare: an integrated research on self sustaining multifunctional rivers.

Ralph Schielen, Denie Augustijn, Suzanne Hulscher

Tuesday 30 june 2015

8:45 - 9:00h at Amazon (level 1)

Themes: (T) Hydro-environment, (ST) Ecohydraulics and ecohydrology

Parallel session: 4G Environment - Ecosystem

The interaction of morphology, ecology and hydrodynamics makes that rivers are inherently complex, dynamic systems which show often irregular behaviour as a function of the discharge. In abandoned, natural areas, there is enough room for these dynamics. However, In a highly developed environment, with increasing pressure of growing population and economic development, this behaviour is often unwanted and disruptive to society. Therefore, there is a tendency to confine the river between strong dikes such that the risk reduces to a minimum. Still, many flood events do happen. Therefore, there is growing awareness that rivers are natural systems. Natural processes should be better utilized to reach the multifunctional objectives and in the same time, reduce the risks. This is the aim of large scale flood plain projects, like Room for the River in the Netherlands. However, to a large extent, the long-term effects of measures are uncertain, especially when it concerns measures on a stretch of several hundredths of kilometers. In the research programme RiverCare, 5 Dutch universities, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, consultancy firms and other public and private parties collaborate to get a better understanding of the fundamental processes that drive ecomorphological changes, predict the intermediate and long-term developments, make uncertainties explicit and develop best practices to reduce the maintenance costs and increase the benefits of interventions. In this way, RiverCare contributes to self-sustaining rivers that are safe and yet Room for the River provides an excellent playing ground to get data that is needed to improve the models and to test the ideas. Due to the combination of fundamental research (e.g. ecomorphology), application (ecosystem services) and the development of ICT-tools (a ‘virtual river’), this programme is a fully integrated research concept. In this contribution, we will summarize the first results from this programme.