3 P’s principle guides water safety in Flanders

On the 16th of November, a symposium on “multi-layer water safety” took place in Brussels. It was organized by the VMM (Flemish Environmental Agency). Over 200 attendees from municipalities, river authorities, provinces, consultants, universities and ministries were welcomed by Philippe Dhondt, the president of CIW (Commission for Integral Water management).

In the name of the minister of Environment her advisor on water management Kor Van Hoof, explained the transition in Flood risk governance towards multi-layer water safety. This strategy for Flood Risk Management was explained further on by Sven Verbeke, chairman of the subcommittee for “water quantity” within CIW.

In the second part of the symposium various speakers illustrated their experiences with the 3P’s: Protection, Preparedness and Prevention.


  • Prof. PhD eng. Patrick Willems (KU Louvain) exposed a case study in the town of Turnhout, He clearly showed that the different authorities have to cooperate to decide which measure is the most effective in flood risk management, using integrated river/sewer models.
  • Ben Causseyn showed some examples of “water in the public space” in the town of Eeklo


  • Yves D’Eer (emergency planner city of Beveren) explained the use of “Waterinfo.be” portal site to enhance the preparedness.


  • Robin Desmedt (Flemish Spatial Planning Administration) stressed the importance of good spatial planning in flood risk prevention.
  • Bram Vogels (chairman of CIW subcommittee on the water test) gave an updated report on the “water test” procedure as a way to a resilient prevention policy. He mentioned also the “information duty on flood risk”. This obligation has been criticized lately as being to crude.
  • Veerle Mertens, Alderman of the city Geraardsbergen, gave an exposé on the procedure of terrain exchange in her town.
  • Didier Soens (Integral Water policy Province Antwerp) explained how they “turned the clock back” to give more space to the river (reshaping the landscape after purchasing and demolishing. threatened houses).


Further on different examples of combinations of the 3 P’s where presented.

  • Hilde Eckers (alderman of Beerse and Miguel Delacroix alderman of St-Geneisus-Rode) how the owners of flooded houses were advised in detail by a consultant how they could take individual measures.
  • Reinout Debergh (province Oost-Vlaanderen) about a River contract and a “Valley vision plan” for the brook Maarkebeek (Oudenaarde and Maarkedal).
  • Niels Van Steenbergen (De Scheepvaart) about the cooperation between Dutch and Flemish administration concerning the Meuse River.
  • Maarten Jans ‘(W&Z) reported on the updated Sigmaplan.

In the afternoon the participants were divided into six groups to resolve a very interesting exercise/game on the 3P approach for 7 different (fictitious) flood risk cases.

During the symposium STAR-FLOOD was present in the form of a poster stand prepared by Hannelore Mees (U Antwerp) and Cathy Suykens (KU Louvain)

.foto vmm