MAELSTROM’s Flash Interview #8 | Forging Paths to Resilient Water Systems: Q&A with Deltares

With a steadfast commitment to sustainability, MAELSTROM’s partner Deltares strives to enhance the management and utilization of water resources, ensuring their security, quality, and quantity for both present and future generations. Embracing the challenge of climate resilience, Deltares envisions water systems that are not only ecologically and chemically healthy but also managed in a sustainable manner, fostering a legacy of thriving water ecosystems for all.

For our Flash Interview #8, we delve into Deltares’ core objectives, its significant contributions within MAELSTROM, and its strategic plans for the project’s final phase. Let us explore Deltares’ journey, its pivotal role within MAELSTROM, and its vision for a future where water resources are safeguarded for the benefit of all.

Deltares is an institute involved in a wide range of activities; what is the main common thread that ties them together?

We work on innovative solutions in the field of water and our motto is: Enabling Delta life. One central topic is to contribute to more sustainable management and use of water resources, resulting in a secure quality and quantity of water resources for nature and people. We strive to achieve climate-resilient water systems that are ecologically and chemically healthy and managed sustainably so future generations will be able to use and enjoy them.

What kind of studies have you conducted as part of MAELSTROM, and how have they been applied in the project?

We evaluated the Bubble Barrier in Amsterdam and, together with The Great Bubble Barrier and other partners, assessed the possible locations and the design of the Portuguese pilot. With CIIMAR we worked out field observations to understand the flow in the Ave estuary. Since no data on river discharge are available, we set up and verified a hydrological model to obtain discharge estimations. We also helped develop a numerical model of the estuary, set up by CIIMAR. In addition to these, we looked at the likely sources of the types of plastic that occur in the environment in the two project areas.

Deltares has also contributed to the implementation of the Bubble Barrier in Portugal. Can you tell us more about it?

We helped coordinate the whole process of implementation of the Bubble Barrier pilot in Portugal, which was very complex – not only because of the environmental characteristics but because it falls under the governance of many different institutions. It was a long and complicated journey of engaging and articulating key authorities and obtaining the necessary permits. But once they realized the value of this pilot, they embraced the idea and the launch event was a success.

What are your planned activities for the final year of the project?

In this last but important stage of MAELSTROM, we will help assess the performance of the Bubble Barrier, now that it is in active operation. How does it work in different river discharge conditions, what proportion and type of debris does it collect and what is the impact on the estuary and surrounding area? This will provide evidence on whether is worth investing in these technologies and how these can be used to monitor the litter that ends up in rivers and would, otherwise, end up in the sea.