OMES Research on the environmental effects of the SIGMA plan
Multidisciplinary study on the estuarine environment of the Sea Scheldt


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Areas close to the Scheldt are high-risk zones for flooding. In 1976 the dyke of Ruisbroek broke and 1/3 of the Province of Antwerp was flooded. The Sigma plan was constructed to protect the land against flooding, but scientific support to monitor the effect on the environment was needed.

The OMES project started in 1995 and is a multidisciplinary study on the estuarine environment of the Belgian part of the Scheldt. The main aim of OMES is to create a tool for the Flemish government that can be used as scientific support for the policy on water management of the Scheldt estuary.


In the first 3 phases of OMES an attempt to understand and model the role of the intertidal zone on the functioning of the ecosystem was undertaken. Modelling and data gathering were the main activities and a detailed dataset on chemical, biological and ecological data of the Scheldt are already available. With this multidisciplinary knowledge of the Scheldt estuary, it would be possible to visualize possible alternatives of the Sigma dykes that are still under construction and select a suitable water management protocol. The 4th phase of OMES started in 2006 and continued the monitoring of the thirth fase and gave special attention to the possible role of controlled flooding areas to secure the land of flooding and protect the functioning of the estuarine environment.

A 5th phase continues the monitoring of the Scheldt. The project is integrated in the new monitoringprogram MONEOS from O&M, within O&M a collaboration between the Dutch and Flemish government to have a coördinated and integrated monitoring of the Scheldt.
More info on OMES in Moneos

The aims of the project are:

  • Develop an online data system that will be available for other scientific communities.
  • Create an overall ecosystem model of the Scheldt estuary.
  • Give scientific support to improve the water management of the Scheldt estuary.

OMES is a project funded by the Flemish Government Waterwegen en zeekanaal NV; Afdeling Zeeschelde
Web contact: Annelies Goffin
Hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)