Water Management


Course Objective

The key objectives are:

1) to understand how water-related processes, such as floods and
droughts, affect our society
2) elaborate on how the water manager can address these issues

For this, the course provides students with a multi-disciplinary view of
water management, including the physical assessment, the practice and
strategies, and the economic dimension of the matter. We will emphasise
on the implications of long term trends, e.g., in climate and in land
use, and we will reason on the uncertainty about these trends and on how
risk analysis can assist the water manager in harnessing these
uncertainties. More in detail, the goals for students are:
* To understand the complex interactions between various water-related
issues (e.g., scarcity, floods, pollution), the environment, and the
* To be able to approach a complex water-related issue in a systematic
and integrated manner, and to analytically interpret data and
information about this issue.
* To critically select the most appropriate measures to alleviate
water-related issues, evaluating their positive and negative effects on
different stakeholders.

Course Content

Several phenomena contribute to increase risks in the earth’s
hydrological system; among them are population growth, economic
development and climate change. Water managers are confronted with a
continuous stream of new scientific information on these phenomena.
Floods and droughts are expected to increasingly affect societies and
economies, and new approaches in water management are needed to deal
with these challenges. Furthermore, the development of adequate water
management strategies that can be used in practice is a difficult issue
and is the result of a complex and long-lasting policy process from the
national down to the local level. In this process, the science of water-
and of socio-economic systems can play an important role by supplying
policy-makers with answers that are key for decisions; for example,
about the effects of floods and droughts upon food production or upon
the socio-economy of urban areas. Moreover, uncertainty in future trends
add new challenges to water management, which can only be addressed by
risk-based techniques. Finally, water managers nowadays need to
cooperate with spatial planners, especially in large cities, to
incorporate in planning adequate consideration of increasing risks, such
as from storm surges and sea level rise.
The framework of the course reflects the principles of the Integrated
Water Risk Management (IWRM) cycle, an iterative cycle. Lectures and
computer practicums cover each step of the IWRM. Although the central
topic of lectures can be associated with one of the concepts in the IWRM
cycle, most of them are cross-disciplinary and will deal with more than
one of these concepts. The course starts with the explanation of the
modern conception of the water cycle, then introduces the notions of
IWRM itself, and therefore moves on to deal with more detailed
properties of water systems, how human systems interact with them, and
how the water manager can chose the optimal actions to take and evaluate
the outcomes.

Teaching Methods

The course consists of several sessions, consisting of lectures by the
experts fostering interactive discussion, two computer practicums, and
student presentations. Further, you will team up in groups of two/three
students to write a paper on water-related issues and adaptation in
cities, which will be presented in the final two sessions. A
considerable effort will be dedicated on developing your own case study.
For this you’ll have to perform a literature study, write a paper and
perform a peer-review of a paper of other students.
Before attending the lectures (32 hours), you are expected to examine
the readings associated with them (28 hours). Some lectures also require
that you do a short (reading) assignment before them. The structure of
the lectures in class will help you identify the key questions on which
you will be assessed.

Method of Assessment

The course will be assessed through:
1) a written, closed-book exam (60%);
2) a paper assignment (35%);
3) a peer review of another group’s paper (5%).
The written exam will (likely) last 2 hours, and will be based on the
compulsory readings and on the lectures. Also, questions related to
insights learned during the computer practicums can be asked.
Quantitative question may be asked, for which you’ll need to bring a
calculator. The written exam counts for 60% of the final grade.
For the paper assignment, groups of students investigate a water-related
issue and its management in a city of their choice, and compose and
present a paper. Paper and presentation will be evaluated as 35% of the
final grade.
You will also individually perform a peer-review of the paper of another
group, and you will be graded for the quality and the insights of your
review, representing the 5% of the final grade.
Other small exercises, although not evaluated, are compulsory, these
• The exercise of the computer practicums. These need to be handed in
via Canvas.
• The literature research exercise included in the lecture on flood
• Presence and active contribution to all presentations.


To each lecture pertains one or two compulsory readers, and one or two
background readers. It is very advisable to familiarize with the readers
before the lecture, and to do any preparatory exercises suggested in the
Canvas. The compulsory reading contains information that can be tested
at the exam. The items specified as background reading are meant mainly
for students who want to learn more about specific subjects. All
readings are either freely available from university computers and from
home by using the VU proxy server, and are uploaded to the Canvas.

Target Audience

MSc students Environment and Resource Management (ERM), MSc Hydrology;
Earth Sciences and Economics(ESE).

General Information

Course Code AM_468023
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. P. Scussolini
Examiner dr. P. Scussolini
Teaching Staff dr. R. Lasage
prof. dr. J.C.J.H. Aerts
dr. H. de Moel
T.I.E. Veldkamp MSc

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Computer lab
Target audiences

This course is also available as: