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Climate change affects 2 Seas Region

Climate change has been affecting countries in the 2 Seas Region (Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and France) more severely than expected. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions that induce storm-surges along the coast and river discharges that threaten the integrity of flood defences is increasing. Humans have attempted to conquer the problems of changing water levels for thousands of years. One of the oldest weapons they’ve wielded against the rivers and oceans is the levee, also known as a dyke.

Levee as flood defence

A levee is simply a man-made embankment built to keep a river from overflowing its banks or to prevent ocean waves from washing into undesired areas. But are these flood defences safe enough? In the past, levees failed due to insufficient planning, riskier designs, poor maintenance, or insufficient funds. Nowadays, most of the levee systems rely on the understanding that levees require regular maintenance, constant monitoring, and a long-term appreciation for how rivers, oceans and storms behave. When these are in place, communities can thrive safely alongside the beauty and convenience of coastal and riverside areas.

Levee Challenge: the assignment

The Polder2C’s project offers a rare opportunity to test and improve flood resilience by improving climate change adaptation capacity on a strategic, tactical, and operational level. The main objective of the “Levee Challenge” is to promote the creativity of MSc students and to get them interested in technical training and civil, hydraulic, and geotechnical engineering through project work as a team.

During this physical challenge (February 2022), groups of students are asked to repair the outer slope of a damaged grass covered levee in the Hedwige-Prosperpolder as well and efficiently as possible with their own innovative and durable protection measures. The reparation of the levee needs to be sufficient to withstand a series of wave impacts generated with the wave impact simulator. Beforehand, the levee will be damaged manually with shovels by the other participating teams. A cliff will be dug at the middle of the levee slope (length of 2m) with a depth deep enough to penetrate the upper clay layer (approximately 0.5-1m). The width of the cliff depends on the angle of levee slope. In case the reparation is done properly, and no visible erosion occurs during the wave impact tests, a local irregularity will be applied to your levee’s reparation (e.g., removing sandbags, local rupturing of geotextile) and the same testing procedure will be followed. Everything during the challenge will be documented in reports, videos, and pictures.

Prizes to win

Three prizes will be awarded: one for innovative and durable value, one for handling the available budget of €1500 for reparation and a final prize for the promotional video. Who wins which prize will be announced during an official ceremony in April 2022.

Who can participate?

All master's students of university education, both University of Applied Sciences and Research Universities, are welcome to form a team and participate. Each team consists of four to six students and a responsible instructor. You choose your own team name and team leader. This team leader will also be the contact person with the Levee Challenge Team. For the physical challenge, the capacity is restricted to 4 or 5 groups of students. Do you want to participate in this special event? Make sure to register now!

Join Levee Challenge 2022

Registration

Are you interested to take part in the Levee Challenge? This is what your team needs to prepare:

  • A Motivation Letter:
    Think of a possible solution for a levee reparation, damaged by steady overflow loading tests. 
    Describe your team’s motivation to participate in the physical challenge in a document and also make a clear outline of how you will tackle this challenge. 

Have you formed a team and prepared your motivation file? Send it in by email to leveechallenge@kuleuven.be. Make sure to include the following information in your email:

  • Name and surname
  • Affiliation of the institute (university)
  • Address
  • Postal code
  • City
  • Country
  • e-mail
  • Amount of team members (4-6)
  • Name of team members
  • Team name
  • Name of team leader
  • Contact person (staff member)
  • Attach Motivation Letter  

We select the best entries. If you are selected, you are invited to repair your own levee with your team members. The deadline for submission is Sunday 24 October 2021. We are looking forward to see your application. 

More information

Want to get an impression of last year's Levee Challenge? Read the article Levee Challenge: educational, innovative and unique or watch our playlist of last year's Levee Challenge