Hydro-engineering institute Sarajevo, Spanish consultancy firm Eptisa, Dutch consultancy firm Royal HaskoningDHV, Dutch research institute Deltares and consultant Mihailo Andjelic have joined forces to establish a Flood forecasting and warning system (FFWS) for all riparian countries in the Sava river basin in Eastern Europe.

Countries involved are Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania.

The Sava-FFWS system is to provide more accurate information with a long lead time, enabling the five countries involved to take the right management decisions and implement operational measures to prevent and mitigate severe flood and drought situations.

The efforts of the consortium will focus on three aspects: how to establish an effective organisational structure, delivering the right information at the right time and to the right place, and training for the relevant stakeholders.

dws-deltares-ffws-sava-map-350px  Map of Sava river basin shared by five Balkan countries.

Bridging the national differences
The Sava-FFWS is a very special project because the Sava river basin (97,700 km2) is shared by five countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, while a very small area of the basin area also extends to Albania.

Each country has its own models, monitoring systems, forecasting systems, water authorities and interests. An effective FFWS has to bridge the differences and support collaboration in the field of water management.

Disastrous floods in 2014
Between 14 and 20 May 2014, there were disastrous floods in the Sava basin (see top photo) that resulted in 79 casualties and substantial economic damage in Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Serbia.

Assessments of the total damage in the area range up to 3.8 billion Euros. The events led to a major international aid campaign, with numerous countries, organisations and individuals sending humanitarian, material and monetary support to the affected areas.

dws-deltares-ffws-sava-ledden2-2014-350pxFlood expert Mathijs van Ledden of Royal HaskoningDHV inspecting the situation after the flooding in 2014 on behalf of the United Nations.

Hydrological and hydraulic models
Hanneke Schuurmans of Royal HaskoningDHV, hydrometeorologist and project leader on this project, recalls the devastating impact within the Sava river basin. "Safer communities in future – spread across five countries – are our biggest win through this flood forecasting and warning system as a partner in this consortium. Royal HaskoningDHV’s main contribution is the integration of multiple numerical hydrological and hydraulic models within the Sava river basin that forecast the expected water levels and flood extents."

Severe droughts
The Balkan region has recently suffered from not only flooding but also from severe droughts. 2012 was one of the driest years in the past four decades. And in 2015, the year after the major floods, the area was afflicted by droughts that caused wildfires, destroyed forests, affected electricity supplies and caused enormous agricultural damage.

dws-deltares-ffws-sava-fews-dommel-350px  Delft-FEWS software applied to map the Dutch Dommel river.

The FFWS system consists of multiple numerical hydrological and hydraulic models to simulate the expected flows and water levels throughout the Sava river basin.

It will be built on the Delft-FEWS software, an open software infrastructure for operational water management and forecasting of which the intellectual properties is owned by Deltares.

Klaas-Jan van Heeringen, project leader at Deltares: "This project brings together all the current state-of-the art knowledge about hydrological forecasting itself, as well as the expertise required to use a system like this effectively if conditions get challenging".

This news item was originally published on the website of Deltares and Royal HaskoningDHV.

Read also on this website
Van Heck completes its biggest mobile pumping operation to date in Serbia, 18 May 2015
Van Heck puts its massive floodwater pumps on the road again, this time to Serbia, 2 September 2014
'Sava levees did remarkably well, given extreme water levels', 26 May 2014
UNDAC calls in Dutch flood expertise to help flood-ridden Serbia, 20 May 2014
Witteveen+Bos leads project to rehabilitate Croatian river Sava, 1 June 2013

More information
Delft, the Netherlands
+31 88 335 8273

Royal HaskoningDHV
Amersfoort, the Netherlands
+31 88 348 20 15