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Integrated river management of a small Flemish river catchment

Integrated river management of a small Flemish river catchment

IAHS-AISH Publication 263(Pages 191-199

In the framework of an integral water management policy, the sanitation of the water courses in the Flemish region is developed through small-scale projects to study the overall environment of local river catchments. Indeed, the complex processes need a multidisciplinary approach to guarantee successful implementation of water resources strategies. In the Zwalm catchment, a small river basin situated in the interfluve between the upper Scheldt and Dender rivers in the southwest of Flanders, this basic philosophy is explored in a pilot project. Local morphological circumstances require a study that focuses on the sediment transport and its management. A combination of sand/silt river beds, severe land erosion and discrete flood flows indicate the importance of sediment management in the clean-up programme. Sedimentation and transport of fine materials, as a favourite adhesive medium for pollutants, lead to general pollution of both water and river bed in the downstream reaches. Based on extensive field recordings on sediment transport in the river channels, total suspended load in the downstream water reach (15600 t year (super -1) ) is revealed to be 100 times higher than the bed load in the corresponding Zwalm channel (140 t year (super -1) ). Upstream steep areas (45% of the catchment surface) deliver about 65% of the total sediment load. It is clearly identified that, during very limited time periods, discrete flood events transport the main part of the total sediment volume.

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