University of Liège (ULiege) and Service Public de Wallonie (SPW) are the PLOTO partners managing the Belgian pilot site in the project. Their collaboration brings expertise in modelling fluvial dike breaching and operating waterways, contributing to enhanced risk assessment and resilience of the Wallonian waterways.

The two organisations joined the PLOTO consortium motivated by Wallonia’s extensive waterway network, since it holds significant international relevance, connecting major ports like Antwerp and Rotterdam to different regions in Europe, including France and Germany.

As experienced with the severe flood in 2021, waterway operations in Wallonia are often disrupted by extreme hydrological events, affecting the Meuse and Albert Canal, which are selected as study sites in the PLOTO project (Use Case C). These disruptions have a significant impact on navigation, both during periods of low flow and high flows/floods. During low flow periods, the flow rate of the Meuse decreases significantly, leading to navigational slowdowns. On the other hand, high flows and floods pose a different challenge by completely interrupting navigation. These events also highlight the importance of assessing potential dangers caused by dike breaches, emphasising the need for proactive measures and monitoring.

To address these challenges, the current equipment and infrastructure in place include 200 stations spread across hydrographic basins. These stations are equipped with sensors and instruments for monitoring water levels, flow rates, rain, and other relevant data. The data collected from these stations are communicated remotely through telemetry, allowing for real-time evaluation and storage. Additionally, with the Hydromax hydrological system, flood warnings can be triggered, enabling timely response and intervention to mitigate the risks associated with extreme hydrological events.

Overall, the combination of the existing infrastructure and the implementation of the PLOTO project aims to enhance waterway operations in Wallonia, ensuring better preparedness for extreme events and minimising disruptions caused by both low flow periods and floods.

Read the full interview here.