Fifth International Conference on River Basin Management

pcr27 - 9 Septmeber 2009



The Fifth International Conference on River Basin Management, including all aspects of Hydrology, Ecology, Environmental management, Flood Plains and Wetlands has recently been held in Malta, organised by the Wessex Institute of Technology of the UK.

The meeting follows a series of successful conferences started in Cardiff, UK in 2001; followed by Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in 2003; Bologna, Italy in 2005 and Kos, Greece in 2007.

The conference discussed recent advances in the planning, design and management of riverine systems, including the development of software tools for computing flow, water quality, sediment transport and ecological systems.

Professor Carlos Brebbia, Director of the Wessex Institute of Technology, opened the conference by stressing the commitment of the Institute to work with other organisations from all around the world. WITs future – Carlos said – is to act as a mechanism for knowledge transfer between academia, industry and other organisations, bridging the gap between physical sciences and the humanities.

Carlos then refered to the work being undertaken at WIT and the large number of collaborative programmes that WIT is involved with including major EU projects.

rbm_pcr3WIT is also involved in several awards such as the Hromadka prize to be awarded in the conferences. The most prestigious of these prizes is the Prigogine Medal, which is given every year to a well-known scientist who has carried out pioneering work in the field of ecological systems, following the ideas of Prigogine. Professor Ilya Prigogine – who passed away in 2003, was Honorary President of the International Conference on Ecological Systems organised by WIT and the University of Siena. Both Institutions upon Prigogine’s death created the award to honour his memory.

The latest medal was presented to Professor Emilio Del Guidice, originally from the University of Naples. The ceremony that took place in the Aula Magna of the University of Siena was presided by the Rector of that distinguished academic institution.

Carlos also explained the commitment of WIT to distribute scientific information, which includes its support of new Journals and the digitalisation of all its material, which is now available through different distributors or directly from the Institute website.

 Conference Topics

  • rbm_pcr4Watershed and Water Resources Management
  • Flood studies and Debris Flow
  • Ecological and Environmental Impact
  • Erosion and Sediment Transport
  • River Restoration and Rehabilitation
  • Case Studies
  • Policy and Governance

 Invited Presentations

The programme also included a number of invited presentations, given by well known specialists.

  • “Dynamics of concentrations of total organic carbon in Estonian streams, 1992-2007” by U. Mander, University of Tartu, Estonia
  • “Design considerations related to the performance of erosion control systems combined with soil bioengineering techniques”, by P Di Petro, Officine Maccaferri, Italy
  • “A natural laboratory for small estuary studies: the reincarnation of Town Pond” by S Mecca, Providence College, USA
  • “Trends in hydrologic time series” by M M Portela, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Portugal
  • “Design of stream barbs for field scale application at Sawmill Creek, Ottawa” by R D Townsend, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • “Development and restoration of the urban rivers: examples from old downtown Tokyo, Japan” by H Gotoh, Nihon University, Japan

 Social Activities

Complementary lunches were offered to increase the degree of collaboration between delegates. These and other social occasions helped the participants to interact with each other.

rbm_pcr2The delegates had occasion during the first night of the conference to visit the town of Mellieha where a festival took place in honour of the Virgin of Victory. This commemorates the anniversary of the famous siege of the island by the Turkish forces in 1565. The town could not be taken reputably due to the intervention of the Madonna. It is also a festivity that remembers the end of the wartime blockade in 1944, marking the completion of a period during which the population suffered great deprivation. The festivity is now marked by mainly band performances, concerts and singing as well as an outstanding firework display. It is – as all festivals are in Malta – an event for the whole family, where people of all ages can meet and enjoy the night. A bus service was organised from the hotel to Mellieha and the delegates had the occasion to have a taste of the island life that few tourists have occasion to enjoy.

 International Scientific Advisory Commitee Meeting

The meeting of the International Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC) of the conference met over dinner to discuss the event and how it can be improved in 2010 when it is to be reconvened. The general agreement was that the meeting was very successful and that it is necessary – as always – for the topics to continue evolving to reflect recent research and society’s needs. Emphasis ought to be given to interdisciplinary activities and interactions between society, the environment and ecology, and technical aspects of river management. The meeting took place in a converted farmhouse which served a variety of dishes, including some Maltese specialities.

 Conference Dinner

rbm_pcr1The conference dinner took place on the island of Gozo, renowned for its beautiful architecture and natural sites. The delegates were taken on a guided tour by an excellent guide who was able to explain the history of the island and to show its main sites, including the citadel in the capital, the well built fortifications and the legends surrounding that enchanted island. Afterwards, the delegates had dinner in a well known restaurant located at the top of a hill from which the whole of the island can be seen. The good standards of the food and the excellent wines helped to make this a unique occasion.


 Closing of the Conference and Hromadka Prize

The conference was highly successful in terms of strengthening the links amongst delegated and making new contacts in a friendly environment. The venue in a well-run hotel, helped to make this a truly valuable Meeting which will be reconvened in 2010. The location of the next meeting will be announced shortly.

The conference closed with the awarding to the Hromadka prize for an outstanding presentation in this conference. Carlos explained that there were many nominations for the award and it was extremely difficult to decide who was to win. The committee guidelines were to look for originality and impact of the work in society as well as being technologically outstanding. The award was instituted by Dr Ted Hromadka, a member of WIT’s Board of Directors in memory of his father. Ted is an outstanding professional engineer as well as researcher recognised by the international community in the field of hydraulic modelling and complex Boundary Element Method.

The high standing of some of the delegates who didn’t receive the award was recognised by giving a diploma to distinguished participants in the competition. These received the diploma;

“Minimisation of the conflict between electric power generation and flood control of the Brazilian reservoirs operation planning” By I. Raupp, CEPEL Electricity Power Research Centre, Brazil

This paper looks at the water resources policy in Brazilian river basins, to balance the requirements to reduce flooding and maintain reservoir levels for hydroelectric power generation.

“Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment in the Horand Watershed” by Martina Zelenáková, Technical University of Kosice, Slovakia

This paper analyses floods that have occurred in the past to develop a flood risk assessment strategy. It considers significant adverse impact on human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.

Two Hromadka awards were given for this year, one to a well-established researcher and the other to a younger member of the community. They were;

“Alternatives in flood protection. The effect of decentralized measures on the Upper Flöha watershed (southeastern Germany)” by C Reinhardt, Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany

This is an interesting paper studying decentralized measures for flood protection of a particular watershed.

“A waterways management framework for Western Australia” by Colin Macgregor, University of Western Australia

This paper looks at waterways management in an innovative way by prioritizing and assessing different criteria.

This year a special Hromadka prize has been awarded to Professor Stephen Mecca from Providence College in the USA for his life long achievements in the field of hydraulic engineering and environmental research. He has not only carried out important research in these areas but also generously contributed to improve teaching and research in other institutions around the world. He has been a participant in many Wessex Institute of Technology meetings where his contributions demonstrated his concern with solving practical problems, particularly those related to improving the environment.

He has two important presentations in this conference and the associated one on Water Resources Management. They were;

“A natural laboratory for small estuary studies: the reincarnation of Town Pond”

This provided an opportunity to observe the early evolution of a new estuarine ecosystem, which can be used as a natural laboratory for short and long term studies of small estuaries.

“Rational water use in the US: the potential for the retrofit of simple residential technologies”

This paper relates to the development and application of a rational use scenario in which present consumption is examined against water conservation opportunities. It would make economic sense to users. Results indicate considerable savings could be achieved.

 Publication of Papers

rbm2009_bookThe proceedings of River Basin Management V, 432pp (Print ISBN: 1-84564-198-6; On-line ISBN: 1-84564-375-1; Print ISSN: 1746-448X) are available from WIT Press priced at £164/US$295/€213. Orders can be placed by telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223, fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the WIT Press web site at

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as volume 124 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment (On-line ISSN: 1743-1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at