The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) sets out requirements for a healthy water system. However, the directive failed to take adequate account of the effect of hydromorphology on healthy, robust ecosystems in European rivers and streams. Due to increasing use, quality has declined over the past century. Affordable solutions are needed to bring about the recovery of the ecosystems in streams and rivers. Eco-engineering has a major role to play. In REFORM, we are looking at how we re-create space for natural processes. This may involve, for example, removing bank protection in canalised streams, or re-activating the old course. We are looking at slow-flowing lowland rivers in the Netherlands, Germany and Poland, rivers in the Mediterranean area that can dry up, streams and rivers in Scandinavia and fast-flowing mountain streams in the Alps and Scotland.
Deltares is leading the REFORM consortium, which consists of 26 partners and research institutes from fifteen European countries. As the coordinator, we also ensure that the knowledge acquired about hydromorphological processes in streams and rivers is shared with the end users through a wiki and concrete tools. In 2014, we were able to add the results of specific studies, such as a clearer understanding of the dependence of a range of biota on hydromorphological factors. We organised extra stakeholder workshops during which we had discussions with the end users, including river management authorities and consultants. They are the people who have to put the solutions into practice. The feedback we obtained is being used for the end products that we will be delivered in 2015.
Inspiring and interdisciplinary European cooperation generates new tools for restoration of regulated streams and rivers.
It is wonderful to develop a shared vision with scientists from a range of disciplines that will make river ecosystems healthier through European regulations.
Erik Mosselman (left), Tom Buijse (right)