Case study in The Netherlands: The Meuse and the WFD explorer

The Dutch case study of the i-Five project will be the implementation of the WFD in the Dutch part of the Meuse basin and more specifically in the area of Waterboard Brabantse Delta (see Map 1). The case study will focus on the WFD Explorer, a decision support system (DSS) for setting environmental objectives and developing the programme of measures. The idea of the WFD Explorer is based on ‘Toolkit’, a DSS for selecting and evaluating flood protection measures for the Dutch part of the Rhine river (Schijndel, 2006). Users of the Explorer can select measures and get a first impression of the water status that can be achieved with these measures.

Map 1: The Meuse river basin district and the waterboard Brabantse Delta

Within the Waterboard Brabantse Delta the experiences with the Explorer are positive, but its use in other parts of the Meuse basin is often more limited. Moreover, the Explorer has been used primarily by the technical staff and not, as originally envisaged, by the policy makers and other stakeholders. Moreover, there is a need to develop it further- or develop alterna¬tives for using information in decision-making on objectives and measures. Information on the effects of measures on ecosystems is often missing or inaccurate, but water quality seems to be better developed. The Explorer comes with a “health warning” that states that the Explorer is really meant for exploration and not for detailed analysis, yet the output of the explorer – maps that indicate the water status – do not indicate levels of uncertainty.

It takes a lot of time to apply the Explorer locally, time that is often not made available, but the benefits are large, and if the Explorer is not further developed, something else has to be used for incorporating ecological and water quality expertise in decision-making.

Taken together, there are more than enough reasons for evaluating the WFD Explorer. Together with the Explorer, the WFD implementation process, which the Explorer is meant to support, will be evaluated. Locally, an “area process” is organized in the Waterboard area, which is a bottom-up approach for setting environmental objectives and identifying meas¬ures. In this process the Waterboard cooperates with the local municipalities, the province, state agencies and other stakeholders to draft objectives and develop measures to reach these. In addition, cooperation takes place at the level of the Dutch part of the Meuse river basin district, at the national level, and at the international Meuse level. DSSs such as the WFD Explorer could potentially function as “boundary objects” (Wenger, 1998), linking different communities that work with the same system and providing a common focus for negotiations.

Finally, the issue of costs and financing will be discussed. Depending on the measures that will be chosen, specific stakeholders will have to pay more or less. This can influence the choice of measures.

In the Dutch case study the development and use of the WFD Explorer in the Waterboard area will be compared with its use in other areas in and outside of the Meuse basin and with the Pegase model that is presently being discussed at the international Meuse level. The international character of the i-Five project puts the Dutch experiences in a broader light and allows an exchange of experiences with Germany and France. The aims of the Dutch case study are the following:

Guided by the i-Five Framework for Analysis, the study will address specific questions such as:

The research will actively involve staff members of Brabantse Delta and other stakeholders in the research. The research methods and activities include, among others:

The researchers aim to support learning by the stakeholders instead of merely drawing conclusions themselves. This is why the stakeholders are involved closely in the process. Meanwhile, the time constraints of the stakeholders will be taken into account, and most of the actual work will be done by the researchers.


Please do not hesitate to contact Sandra Junier for more information on this case study.

Schijndel, S. A. H. van (2006) The Planning Kit, a decision making tool for the Rhine Branches. In J. van Alphen, E. van Beek, and M. Taal (Eds.), Floods, from defence to management. Proceedings 3rd International Symposium Flood Defence, Nijmegen, 25-27 May 2005: 763-769. London.: Taylor & Francis Group.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press.

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