University experts advise on €25 million overhaul to flood management

Posted: Monday 3rd May 2010

Flood risk and management in Europe looks set to benefit from a €25 million investment following the launch of three projects involving experts at the University of Sheffield.

Experts at the University’s Pennine Water Group - one of the UK’s leading research groups in urban water management - alongside partners including Sheffield City Council, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council within the Yorkshire and Humber region, are aiming to implement flood risk reducing strategies as well as increase awareness about managing flooding risks.

The plans will be undertaken as part of three European projects - FloodResilienCity (FRC), Managing Adaptive Responses to Changing Flood Risk (MARE) and Skills Integration and New Technologies (SKINT).

The first project will aim to balance the increasing demand for more housing and other buildings with the need for better flood risk management measures in North West European cities, by highlighting the importance of this to politicians, authorities and members of the public.

This will be done using flood models, developing a Cost Benefit Analysis tool to provide information on potential flood damages and on options to mitigate these damages and flood proofing public infrastructure and buildings. In addition, the project aims to alleviate flood risk by widening rivers and constructing streets to be used as rivers during floods.

The second project, MARE, concentrates on enabling the widespread implementation of local adaptive measures to mitigate flood risk and reduce the risk of flood damage or disruption to the economy and human lives. This would include the development of customised flood risk management plans that go beyond Flood Directive Requirements as well as the creation of Learning and Action Alliances in four countries to develop transnational shared understanding of flood problems in order to combine working methodologies.

The final project takes a multidisciplinary approach to encourage water management companies and spatial planners to reduce uncertainty about the best ways to integrate land and water management in a bid to reduce flood risk. It is hoped that by setting up communication channels such as a web based international water portal to encourage better communication, key water and urban land use professionals will discuss the benefits of adopting more sustainable solutions to water and land use.

In addition to experts in the UK, various European partners will be involved in the projects, including the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg, Germany, the Flemish Environment Agency in Belgium and the City of Paris Engineering School. By working together and sharing experiences, the project partners from the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Germany and France hope to be able to share their expertise to perfect flood prevention and management strategies.

The three projects have a total combined budget of over €25 million, 50 per cent of which is provided by the project partners and 50 per cent from the European Regional Development Fund.

John Blanksby from the Pennine Water Group in the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: “These projects allow partners from research institutes and operational organisations from different countries to share knowledge and experience and to expand the knowledge base within the participating countries. The cost benefits through the sharing of knowledge and experience with our European partners are substantial.”

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