River Culm catchment demonstrations

The River Culm in Devon is a medium-sized river with a catchment of 290 km2 that has a history of flooding with 5000 properties and the main railway line to the region at risk. Costly hard infrastructure responses have been made but, despite these, flooding events are becoming more frequent. Alternative solutions based on a whole-catchment approach and using natural processes and systems are needed to address the problems at source.

We will install natural flood management (NFM) systems in three demonstration zones, each responding to a specific set of circumstances, to better adapt 2600ha. The interventions will be designed through a co-creative process.

Connecting the Culm website

Antwerp adaptation demonstrations

In 2005 a hydrological and hydraulic study for the catchment of the river ‘Laak’ has been executed. The problems were identified and solutions were investigated. The main problem is the flooding in the centre of the municipality of Beerse. The only possible solution for this problem is to create more space for the river more upstream, but still in the centre.

The municipality of Beerse and the province of Antwerp have bought some land alongside the river in 2017. They both want to test co-creation by designing the area together with the neighbourhood. The goal is to create an area where it’s nice to be, where children can play and where it can flood in times of heavy rainfall. Nature based and natural process solutions will enhance the green infrastructure of the site, which is poor, and so improve the attractiveness of the space for the community. This incentive will help to secure commitment to co-creation and longterm support for the investment and other like it in the region.

Laakbeek Website

Somerset Levels demonstrations

In 2014 150km2 in the Somerset Levels and moors flooded, causing an estimated £120m economic loss.

Working with the local communities, ‘Adapting The Levels’ will create strategies for climate change adaptation through nature based solutions to water management. At the heart of the project is ‘co-creation’: gathering a wide range of expertise, understandings and ideas from the whole community, in order to develop a shared vision for climate adaptation on the Somerset Levels. The co-creation process will help determine the location and exact type of investment required.

The project will be working with two or three focus communities at a time, beginning with those around Tealham & Tadham Moors near Wedmore and Wet & West Moors near Langport, moving out to other areas as the project develops.

Vlissingen demonstrations

In the past, technical solutions to water problems were mainly looked at. These solutions are expensive and not sustainable. There is a challenge to design river basins with natural measures to prevent flooding. A great deal of attention is paid to natural values, sustainability and effects on the river basin as a whole. However citizens are now insufficiently aware and involved in solutions in the context of climate change.

Citizens are actively involved in the approach from the beginning. A problem analysis is drawn up together, then solutions are identified and worked out with them. This approach through co-creation is innovative for water problems due to the combination of the scale of the regional and local river basin (meso level) and elaboration on the street (micro level). Urban public spaces for daily use (like roads, parking and parks) are maximized with natural solutions as a water buffer. This goes beyond grey infrastructure and technical solutions.

Flanders demonstrations

To solve a lot of water issues (drought, flooding) the Water-Landschap-Program was launched in Flanders by VLM in 2017. In Co-Adapt it is the ambition to create a more adaptive and robust soil water system within several catchments covered by this program. We need to slow down the discharge in the streams and increase the capacity to store water in the surrounding land.

This is a new approach in Flanders – to solve the problems on the ground by working in close cooperation with all local stakeholders in a co-creative way. To get the right measures in a catchment area, local knowledge and local engagement is essential.

These investments will demonstrate Nature-Based-Solutions to climate adaptation, providing benefits of protection from flooding, avoidance of drought and better soil/water conditions for food production. An integrated approach will support local alliances (bottom-up) and gain trust and support for more spatial cohesion for the different water issues so they don’t compete with each other.

West Brabant demonstrations

In the region of West Brabant we need to match adaptation to climate change to regional (economic) development. The landscape shows a relatively flat area with several small rivers running towards the Meus/Rhine delta in the north. Climate change will result in increased peak discharge in the water system, while on the other hand there will be periods of water shortage on the higher ground. To create a more adaptive and robust soil water system we need to slow down discharge in the rivers and increase the ‘sponge’ capacity of the surrounding land.

There are many Nature-Based-Solutions available to support this goal, but they have to be matched – by an approach of co-creation – to the intense land use in the area and the needs of farmers, citizens and companies in the area.

In the Co Adapt project we will demonstrate this co-creation approach on the scale of a sub catchment in West Brabant (total area approximately 200 km2). Main focus is on the challenge is to match urban development to creating a climate robust brook system in an area of approximately 250 ha, serving a total area of approximately 5000 ha.

Porlock Vale demonstrations

The core of the problem is to reduce the high risk of flooding to the villages of Allerford, Bossington, Horner and Porlock in Porlock Vale. This is due to the confluence of two river catchments into a steep valley. Porlock Vale is home to 2100 residents, with a further 45,500 people within 10 miles of its river catchments. The challenge is to develop solutions that deliver a quantifiable reduction in flood risk, by working with nature and local/wider communities.

Investments will be Nature-Based-Solutions, tailored to the specifics of individual pilot sites and designed to maximise wider benefits to biodiversity, amenity, and farming.

The innovation lies in the ability to deliver a co-created project at landscape-scale. The project is being developed to deliver hard evidence of how integrated land management change, working with natural processes, can contribute to a reduced flood risk, while providing wider benefits for the environment and local communities. This will be supported by long term data which will be utilised to demonstrate the effectiveness of key project investments in reducing financial and environmental flooding costs.

Boulonnais demonstrations

Boulonnais is a hilly area. This leads to a rapid concentration of water in the valleys and floods, which will may increase with climate change. To create a more adaptative and robust soil water system we need to slow down discharge in the valley and increase the ‘sponge’ capacity of the surrounding land. There are many nature-based-solutions available to support this goal, but the best one is that which will be co-built with all the partners and local communities.

A detailed design will be developed for the locations and nature based and natural process meaures selected through the co-creation process. Key stakeholders will be involved in the design process, to continue the ethos of co-creation and to ensure that local knowledge is reflected in designs.

Investments will be Nature-Based-Solutions. They will provide better protection against flooding and drought and additional benefits for biodiversity, agriculture and amenity.