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Study of navigation conditions in the Congo River (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Period: 1968 till 1990
Status: Completed

This study, financed by the Belgian Technical Cooperation, started in 1968 and aimed at improving navigation conditions with a proper management of the river’s morphology. The initial tool was scale modelling and J.J. Peters was the engineer at the Belgian State Hydraulic Laboratory in charge with the field data acquisition for the calibration and validation of the scale model. He organised and conducted the topo-bathymetric surveys, the gauging of water level, flow and sediment discharges. After 3 years of surveys and scale model studies, he wrote a thesis about the sediment dynamics of this huge river (minimum discharge over 20 000 m3/s, average discharge 42 000 m3/s, maximum gauged discharge 80 000 m3/s. In this thesis, he showed why models alone could not solve the problem and he developed a method for management of the river’s morphology based on the analysis of field data. This was applied successfully and a on-the-spot capacity building was organized, which lasted over 20 years. After 1985, J.J. Peters was involved in a World Bank project in which was analysed which investments could be made for improving the overall situation. In 1990, J.J. Peters was asked by the World Bank to organise a difficult dredging operation, under supervision of Dr. Brien Winkley, a former head of the Potamology Section of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg, Mississippi, U.S.A.

Main project features:
Capital and maintenance dredging for managing navigation channel (8 m depths)

Activities performed:
Organizing field surveys, building and running scale models of the river Congo, developing a method for analysing and predicting morphological changes, steering the dredging operations, especially with the new concept of morphological dredging and sediment disposal.

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