Rural Water Management:
This component takes a closer look at water systems and water management. Emphasised in particular is the relationship between different systems. Attention is given to groundwater systems and the legislation (or lack of legislation) involved. For more information on legal matters I refer students to the paper 'Handreiking Juridische helderheid Grondwaterbeheer' (part 2).
A key component is the 'Water Framework Directive'. This is addressed by looking at what has already been, or should have been realised, and what still needs to be realised. The practicalities and implications are also widely covered. The students will enter into discussion with policy makers and managers.
There is quite some tension between the people who have to carry out the work and those who draw up the policies. Ecological improvements that are thought up on the drawing board turn out to be different in practice or much more expensive. The various users of an area with their own requirements and wishes are of course also discussed.
We furthermore focus broadly on Ecology and Ecological Water Management in this component. I make use of the publications of STOWA: ‘Ecologische sleutelfactoren voor stilstaand en stromend water’ (ecological key factors for still and flowing water).
One of the exam assignments is to draw up a plan for the ecological enrichment of an area/water system through redevelopment or some other form of management. It is especially important to visit areas where things have succeeded ecologically. I employ not only ecologists for this, but above all managers with area knowledge.
Linked to this is an inventory assignment (can be in the same area) on the variation in the use of an area/water system. Think not only of agricultural use, but also of nature, culture and recreation. Identifying the different interests of the users is also important. The assignment is to investigate and come up with ideas on how to bring the interests of different users together, and how one might accept each other's interests.
Climate-Proof Water Management:
First, weather and climate, climate change and its short and longer term consequences will be discussed. For this I asked a real weatherman to act as guest lecturer. Ample attention is paid to climate scenarios. (brochure KNMI Climate Scenarios 14).
There is a risk that the discussion will be about preventing or reducing climate change. This is not the intention; the change is already underway and the effects are already being felt: water boards need to act now.
We also discuss the delta scenarios and what the possible consequences of climate change are for our country (The Netherlands). This part is about the speed of climate change and the speed of economic growth. We have no influence on this, but it is important that students know which direction this might take.
In the sections 'working on the Delta' and ‘spatial adaptation’, we mainly deal with ways to prepare our country for events to come. (I use the brochure 'Deltaprogramma 2020' for this).
Again, look at examples in the area that have already been realised. Make sure you utilise people with knowledge of the area: they have the best stories.
Topics are: water storage, protection against high water, emergency programs in case of extreme weather, desiccation of areas, etc. Covered are all possible water management systems that are related to these topics.
The exam assignment 'Working on the Delta' is to visit an area, observe what climate-proof measures have already been taken there, and to transform these observations into ideas for their own area. The underlying aim is also 'networking'. The students themselves have to establish contacts with people from another area or from another water board.
Urban Water Management:
For students of the Dutch northern water boards, this is a bit of a strange concept. We are not really working in urban areas. However, it is important to highlight especially the differences in management and to illustrate the different problems that arise from the effects of climate change. Some water boards are already working in urban areas.
In preparation for this component, the students visit the fair 'Klimaat' (Climate). This fair is held every year in November in the Dutch hometown of Houten. At the fair, it is back to networking and gathering information on all the possible ways and applications that can be used in urban areas to anticipate the effects of climate change.
The possible systems and applications are then discussed in class and two plans are drawn up for the design of an urban area. One plan for climate-proofing an existing urban area, and one plan for a new climate-proof city. The students will do this in groups, and the result is added to the portfolio as an exam assignment.
Again, it is important to be out and about, and to visit those cities’ sites where measurements have already been realized.
For students at level 4 there is an extra assignment in this section. An ‘environment manager’ is often the one who devises, prepares and implements measures in an urban area. Someone who brings all parties together and ensures that there is a good level of cooperation.
The student’s assignment is to organise spending a few days with such an environment manager. This gives the student an insight into the complexity of these types of projects, the lead time (the amount of time that passes from the start of a process until its conclusion) and the often high costs involved.
Working with Automated Systems:
In this part of the elective you can actually explore many different options. Respond to the very latest techniques and systems. Welcome to the digital world.
The focus here is to obtain data through automated systems, drones and the like. Operating these systems is also important and will be covered. The most fun is working with drones to obtain data but other automated systems or tools can also be used.
The data must be interpreted and processed. Again, there are modern techniques available for this purpose that can be examined in this section. Working with GIS (Geographic Information System) and other Geo-data systems will be discussed.
For this component, visit companies that provide these technologies; they are on the rise but are not yet in use at all water boards.
The exam assignment for this component is for students to produce a (video) report on working with automated systems.
The elective is concluded with an exam. This exam consists of presenting (part of) the portfolio.
The portfolio assignments have already been assessed, the exam is assessed by two independent people from both the school and the business community.