Luzette Kroon, president of the Blue Deal, and Josette Van Wersch, member of the executive board of the Dutch water authority of Limburg, visited the Blue Deal partnership in Romania at the end of July.
There, after a visit to the largest hydroelectric power plant in Europe in Vidraru, Romania, they were surprised by a number of bears on the road (mountain route Transfagaran in the Carpathians). This was literally close! In Dutch, the saying ‘bears on the road’ means foreseeing a number of problems along the way. Of course, we don’t want to see these ‘bears’ during our Blue Deal cooperation.
Blue Deal and collaboration
Kroon: “The extreme heat in Bucharest has put our conversations about climate change in a special light. Floods, drought and a lack of clean water demand cooperation. That is not always self-evident in a country that emerged from a dictatorship not so long ago. It is good to see that steps are now being taken in the right direction. The Blue Deal initiates cooperation between all levels and regions.”
In Romania, a large part of the energy supply is covered by hydroelectric power plants. The Vidraru Dam, which was visited, has a capacity of 220 MW. The dam is 166 meters high, the arc length is 305 meters and it can store 465 million cubic meters of water. The mechanical parts of the dam are due for maintenance, but it has not been possible to find a party through a European tender that is able or willing to carry out this maintenance.
Generating energy with hydropower and meeting the water needs from the reservoirs are at odds during periods of drought. The use of a decision support system (Decision Support System) as an aid to better substantiate the choices to be made is therefore necessary. The Dutch water authorities have experience with this. In Arges-Vedea, the regional office of Apele Romane (Ministry of Water Romania) explained the water system and the applicable procedures for water management.
The remainder of the short work visit also went well. Knowledge was shared about the current projects (Tackling Drought, Tackling Floods, Decision Support System and Economic mechanism). All these projects have a relationship with each other, which is why it was essential to have representatives from the different projects and regions together. The working visit contributed to a better connection between the various parties and the various projects.
On May 23, the water consultancy company HKV and the Dutch water authority of Limburg provided a Nature-based Solutions training course for a delegation of colleagues from the Blue Deal partnership in Romania. Now they made a video of this training.
On 1 and 2 February, the ninth Romanian-Dutch water management panel took place in the Netherlands. This was the first time since the start of the corona crisis.
The panel is intended to bring about knowledge transferring between the Romanian and Dutch water sectors. The basis is the Memorandum of Agreement between National Administration Romanian Waters (NARW) and Dutch Water Authorities (DWA).
Blue Deal Day
On 1 February, the panel was a guest at the Association of Dutch Water Authorities. Under the chairmanship of Luzette Kroon, board member International Affairs at the Association of Dutch Water Authorities, the focus of this day was on the Blue Deal projects in Romania. These projects improve water management in Romania for the challenges with drought, flooding and reservoir management.
The purpose of this day was a peer-to-peer review. For further development of the NARW/DWA partnership, explicit attention was also paid to: best practices in other Blue Deal partnerships, the possibilities of the Blue Deal congress that will be organized for all partnerships in June, the Communities of practices, and the training programme for employees of the Dutch water authorities who want to work internationally.
The Dutch embassy in Bucharest organized a varied programme on 2 February in collaboration with Netherlands Enterprise Agency (in Dutch: RVO) and Rijkswaterstaat (the executive agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management). In the morning, the panel was a guest at RVO to get acquainted with companies and institutions from the Dutch water sector. In the afternoon, Rijkswaterstaat hosted a visit to the Maeslantkering, a storm surge barrier. In addition to a guided tour, Rijkswaterstaat also gave presentations on public-private partnership and tenders.
All in all, a water management panel with a rich harvest in which a lot of knowledge has been exchanged, new ideas for cooperation have arisen and mutual ties have been strengthened. A tenth panel will take place in Romania in 2024.
The KIWI learning programme recently organised a lecture by professor Guy Alaerts about the unruly nature of international water management and solutions for complex water problems.
Water managers worldwide are looking for integrated solutions for complex water problems. Major investments are often required to become climate proof, but finding financing is difficult. Water managers and financial institutions do not know where to find each other and converting globally available financing into concrete projects on a large scale is difficult. Watch the lecture below. The lecture is in Dutch, but can be viewed with subtitles.
TU Delft and Erasmus University, in collaboration with Dutch Water Authorities, have launched a study into water management knowledge exchange. The universities are investigating which lessons the Dutch regional water authorities take abroad.
As part of the study into water management knowledge exchange university researchers are looking at the lessons learned at an individual level, group level and organisational level. The aim is to find out exactly what effect these lessons have on organisations.
A questionnaire is sent out via the Dutch Water Authorities foreign coordinators. It is hoped that insight can be gained into the possibilities and limiting factors of international knowledge sharing.
The 2021 annual plan of the Blue Deal programme has been approved by the steering committee. The partnerships will continue their work in 2021 to improve water management in 14 countries.
The focus of the Blue Deal Annual plan 2021 is on three crucial elements: sufficient knowledge and skills, a well-functioning organisation and collaboration with key stakeholders.
As COVID-19 continues into 2021, the Blue Deal partnerships focus on online learning and training in the first six months. This is not easy in all countries, for example due to slow internet connections or recently initiated partnerships. Therefore, the partnerships also focus on additional local representation. Dutch Water Authorities hopes to physically meet its partners again in the second half of 2021.