Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rainer Mohn
Nowadays, the exploitation of water as a natural resource no longer has to conflict with conservation of the natural function of surface waters. For decades, this function as an interlinking, linear element of the ecosystem was ignored while extensive natural elements of the landscape were reduced by the intensification of exploitation and isolated by the expansion of the infrastructure. Initiated by the European Water Framework Directive in 2000, running waters are getting regenerated towards a good ecological status, a condition in which, on the one hand, they once more provide a habitat for the ancestral ecosystems and, on the other hand,
they can again better exercise their function of regulating the landscape's water supply, even in flood events. The degree of exploitation of the running waters is optimised in the process, such that maintaining our living standard and our needs for security is possible, even within the constraints of climate change. The equilibrium among conflicting societal interests required for this is made possible within our general statutory framework by adapting to the Water Framework Directive and, in practice, is translated into reality by the versatile and deep commitment of the participants and those affected.
The current understanding of the relationships of the physical, chemical and biological parameters of the good ecological status, however, are just as little effective as our planning knowledge of the prognosis of the ramifications of our measures for the ecological improvement of the water bodies. It is already conceivable that our classic methods and the solutions evolved, with their ambitiously worded societal objectives and requirements, cannot keep pace. Unfortunately, the efficiency of the dedication of resources and, to an extent, the sustainability of the measures taken cannot be guaranteed sufficiently.
Our concern, therefore, is to expedite and improve the measures for the restoration of the ecological good status by interdisciplinary collaboration, supported by modern technologies and methods for describing and forecasting the development of the ecologically relevant parameters.
Our contributions to improving the situation are:
- the application and refinement of methods of interdisciplinary monitoring and the numerical flow simulation for forecasting the morphodynamic and ecological development of water bodies;
- the development of case-specific solutions for exceptionally intensely highly modified water bodies in urban areas of concern;
- interdisciplinary collaboration between science and practice for improving the methods for modelling the habitat characteristics of the evolving running waters
- the optimisation of the function of technical facilities for water protection with the aid of numerical flow simulation methods;
- the application and dissemination of bioengineering-methods for the protection of property and the infrastructure facilities and new water bodies where there is the risk of flooding.