International Network for Storm Surge Barrier Managers
For centuries the sea has shown itself to be a destructive force, which mankind must always take into account. To protect people against floods, static structures like dams and dikes have been built. In the 20th century, society demanded that defences should not have a major affect on their surroundings. The movable storm flood surge barrier was the result.
At present, there are only a handful of European countries that manage or construct large sea-resistant storm flood surge barriers. These are the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Italy and Russia. So, knowledge of these unique objects is scarce and demands very specific knowledge and experience. Therefore, exchanging knowledge is important to learn from each other. Especially now when climate change and sea level rise are recognised facts that should be taken into account. The public administrations of these four countries recognise the usefulness of sharing knowledge and experience and decided to create an international network of storm surge barrier managers.
About the Network
The aim of the international network is to share experiences and to exchange knowledge on operational and functional management of large movable storm surge barriers in order to optimize the management of barriers by innovative management. This aim is being realised by organising a network which functions as a meeting place for storm surge barrier managers.
In the network, knowledge and experience on many themes is shared, and four main areas can be distinguished:
- General management
- Asset management
- Operational management and maintenance
- Policy issues
Both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom already manage existing barriers (built in the 1950s, 1980s and 1990s). Therefore, their main focus will be on asset and operational management and maintenance. The barriers in Venice and St. Petersburg are still in the construction phase, and in this phase many policy related decisions have to be taken which influence the design. So their focus will be on the policy issues. By participation in the network, the managers and experts that manage the barriers can learn from each other and exchange ideas on common issues. The experience of the English and Dutch of course could be helpful for the Russians and Italians. On the other hand, new innovative techniques of today applied in the new generation barriers could be interesting for the Dutch and English barriers whenever a decision on replacement of elements of the barrier should be taken.
Activities, Products and Services
The network was formed in 2006, and since then several activities have been taking place within the framework of the network. Each year a conference is organised in which barrier managers meet and discuss different topics of similar interest. In addition to these annual conferences, other activities are focused around specific topics of concern to the barrier managers. These activities vary from simple phone calls, conference calls to field trips, traineeships and joint projects and setting up information facilities, which enables barrier managers to easily contact each other and find information on other barriers.
The challenge of this network is to enable storm surge barrier managers to easily get in touch with each other on whatever subject related to the management of the storm surge barriers. This network also enables barrier managers to work together on common issues like the response to climate change, sea level rise and flood warning systems.
The network is a joint initiative of the U.K., the Netherlands, Italy and Russia. The network is organised by means of a steering committee, theme representatives and experts.
The steering committee takes all strategic decisions (ambition, strategy, aim). Their main agreements are summarised in so-called gentleman agreements. The steering committee consists of representatives of all different organisations involved in the network and the coordinator for the international network. The coordinator for the international also joins the steering committee and has a facilitating, initiating and intermediating role between the different organisations involved.
The participating organisations and storm surge barriers in the network are:
- Environment Agency. The United Kingdom; Thames barrier and associated barriers
- Rijkswaterstaat. The Netherlands: Maeslant Barrier, Eastern Scheldt Barrier and associated barriers in the Delta Works
- Groot Salland Water Board, The Netherlands: Ramspol Barrier
- Magistrato alle acque di Venezia, Italy: Venice Barrier / MOSE project
- Consorzio Venezia Nuova, Italy: Venice Barrier / MOSE project
- Rosstroy. Russian Federation: Flood protection Barrier of St. Petersburg
- Saint Petersburg City Administration, Russian Federation: Flood protection Barrier of St. Petersburg.
Theme representatives are employees of the involved organisations that have knowledge and information on a certain theme. They are involved in network on a continual basis and are strategically connected to the network. They play an important role to determine the agenda for the network.
Sometimes, experts and consultants are involved to fill the gaps of knowledge and information. These experts are not strategically connected but will be invited when needed for specific issues.
Whenever you have a question related to a specific storm surge barrier you can contact:
Thames Barrier: Andrew Batchelor
Maeslant Barrier: Marc Walraven, Rijkswaterstaat Zuid-Holland
Ramspol Barrier: Evelien van der Kuil, Waterschap Groot Salland
Venice Barrier: Maria Teresa Brotto, Consorzio Venezia Nuova
St. Petersburg Barrier: Rosa Mikhailenko, Rosstroy
If you would like to have receive more general information about the international network for Storm surge barrier managers you can contact: Bianca Peters. E-mail:
- Keringhuis Visitor Center for the Maeslant Barrier, including background information on the Barrier
- Delta Works Information on the Dutch Delta Works including descriptions of all the Barriers
- UK Environment Agency Thames Barrier information
- Salve Venice flood protection
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