Throughout my career, I've always been torn between the quest for knowledge and the need for action, the hands-on-approach. This is why, when my research interests threatened to drag me too far away from the actual application of science, the management side, I've often exchanged the job at an institute for a job in the private sector. I believe in a healthy balance between two strong impulses: learning and doing.
The project I'm currently involved in concerns decision making in an coastal area in China with acute water shortage, a fast growing population, industry and agriculture. Together, they use over 125% of the total amount of usable runoff. We drew up a measure catalogue which includes aspects like infiltration, ground water storage, irrigation technological changes, water (re)use, treatment and harvesting, desalination, etc… My job is to select the best measure(s) to implement, given the local socio-economical circumstances and climato- hydro- ecological background.
The second, extremely interesting project I'd like to list here has a more probabilistic background. It concerns the selection of different technical flood retention schemes for the flood-prone unstrut river in Germany. Classically, retention measures were dimensioned using a design flood. After the millennium floods in Europe, the risk-based strategy was adopted where the effectiveness for retention structures had to be tested for flood with widely different return periods. This was thought to guarantee a probabilistic insight in effects when retention capacity is exceeded. Unfortunately, flood peak height is not the only major factor when it comes to damages: the flood volume and flood level rise are also very important. This decision making should be based on multi-variate probabiltities. How can this be done? Is there way to simplify the complexity? Is there such a thing as the 'best' solution?
If I get round to it, I'll try to extend the website with a few other projects like:
- ’Determining Conservation targets for SAC’s, SPA’s and Ramsar areas in the Sea harbour of Antwerp
- Setting up a nature conservation plan a compensation for lost SAC areas
- Hydrological and ecological effects of the international nature development plan ’Grensmaas’
- Nature development project ’Ponds of Florival’ – INTERREG Ecological development in an international project in Middelburg (Netherlands)