18 Aug 2015

Supporting Danish river basin management plans

Through the development of tools based on mechanistic models, DHI has helped the Danish water authorities in the preparation, completion and submission of Denmark’s second generation river basin management plans (RBMPs) – plans estimated to have a direct cost of 200 million euros when fully implemented.

In 2000, the European Union (EU) adopted the Water Framework Directive (WFD) which sets the basis for managing and protecting the ecological values of European water bodies. The directive initiates a new approach based on natural geographical and hydrological formations – river basins – instead of national boundaries. It applies to all waters, including rivers, lakes, canals as well as coastal and transitional waters. The WFD mandates that all EU Member States meet this common goal: To get all European waters into good ecological status no later than 2027.

DHI was commissioned by the Danish Ministry of Environment’s Nature Agency to assist in developing tools for setting nutrient load targets to ensure ‘good environmental status’ in Danish marine waters, allowing the authorities to develop specific RBMPs.

Our solution was to develop marine modelling tools based on mechanistic regional and local models using MIKE Powered by DHI’s 3D modelling software MIKE 3 and ECO Lab. These mechanistic models describe the causal link between the physical parameters (for example, wind, currents and mixing), chemical parameters (such as nutrients) and the growth and biomass of the biological elements (such as phytoplankton and benthic flora), which are crucial to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Our work in this prominent project has established us as an important player in Denmark when it comes to determining environmental status and assessing impacts from pressures such as nutrient loading. Additionally, the developed modelling approach can be exported to support consultancy services on ecological water management worldwide.