Wetenschap - 20 april 2012

Balance Island wins Delta Prize

Imares researcher Emil Kuijs has won the Delta Water Award. He and his team have devised a plan to counter the salinization of the Haringvliet.

'Balance Island' is the name of the plan. It involves constructing a sand structure in front of the Haringvliet delta. The sand forms a barrier so that less salt water can flow inland when the Haringvliet sluices are open. 'It maintains a balance in the delta between the benefits for nature and those for mankind,' explains Kuijs.
Opening
The Haringvliet sluices are required by the 'Kier' legislation to maintain a 'kier' or slit opening to give migrating fishes a free passage. As a result, a large amount of salt seawater can flow inland as well, causing damage to agriculture. The plan of Kuijs and team mates from Grontmij en Waterarchitect reduces the salt inflow by having a basin with brackish water (mixture of seawater and fresh water). 'We are in fact pushing this mixture more towards the sea. We extend the estuary and reduce the amount of salt water which can flow through the Haringvliet at high tide.'
Interest
Kuijs says that the idea for an artificial island came from his Grontmij team mate Sander van Rooij. Kuijs was roped into the project team because of his ecological knowledge of migrating fishes and estuaries. Winning the prize did not come as a total surprise. 'During the various presentations, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and various nature organizations had shown great interest. It is indeed a good idea. But we weren't sure, of course. The other entries also looked good.'
New Orleans
The Delta Award is a prize for 'young water talents'. Balance Island was declared the best of five nominated entries in the final. Researchers and students from Wageningen UR were involved In all five entries. Jury chairman and Delta programme commissioner Wim Kuijken calls Balance Island 'an innovative and sustainable solution for a problem which shows up in many places in the world'. Kuijs and his team won 15,000 euros to be divided among themselves, and get a chance to go on a study tour of the delta in New Orleans.

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