Flood defence training is all in the game

A snap-shot of the River Esk as it flows through Brechin.
A snap-shot of the River Esk as it flows through Brechin.

AN unlikely scenario in the formulation of a flood defence programme has been unveiled - one that developers believe could play a part in the creation of Brechin’s very own flood defence scheme on the River South Esk. (writes Steve Mitchell).

Flood defence decision-making is to be helped across Europe by the development of a new high-tech computer game at the University of Abertay, Dundee, to train town and city planners and infrastructure managers.

WaterTown will present planners and environmental managers with virtual scenarios based on real water management problems in Scotland, England, the Netherlands and Norway.

It is scheduled for launch later this year.

The ‘serious game’ will let industry professionals work through all their different options for managing a flood situation, from avoiding building damage to minimising the impact of pollution.

By presenting highly technical information gained at Abertay University from the study of sustainable water management, the people responsible for Europe’s flood defences can quickly compare the impact of different decisions and improve their own planning.

Neil Berwick, WaterTown project leader and a research officer at Abertay University, said: “Managing water in our towns and cities is extremely complex.

“Many, many different decisions together help determine how we manage surface water within the urban environment and the impact these decisions have on flood risk, water quality and public acceptance.

“Bringing all this data together in a very visual, interactive way helps everyone understand much more about the impact of their decisions, and it allows us to easily communicate how very challenging situations can be best handled.”

WaterTown is being developed as part of the European Union’s Skills Integration and New Technologies (SKINT) project, which brings together experts to improve sustainable urban land and water management across the EU.

Neil added: “Scotland, like many other countries across Europe, has seen the damage and devastation that flooding can cause.

“By presenting serious, complicated flood management decisions in an easy-to-understand way, we believe WaterTown can help planners, architects, politicians and our secondary school pupils understand the challenges we face and the responsible decisions we can take to improve our flood protections.”

WaterTown deals with problems relating to both water quantity (flooding) and water quality (pollution and run-off), to provide a holistic view of how water can be properly managed within an urban environment.

The project is based in the Urban Water Technology Centre at Abertay University, an international centre for excellence in sustainable water management and drainage solutions.