June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.20.1 - 12.20.9
A Comparison of Flood Management Practices between Germany and the USA: An Undergraduate Research Project on Sustainable Practices
The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) offers a three credit hour study abroad course which focuses on sustainable development, globalization, and German culture. Undergraduate students have an option to add another three credit hour sustainable research project to their studies while in Germany. Students can select a sustainable project and work with one of a number of different German industries, municipalities, or universities or they can elect to conduct an individually designed sustainable project on their own. This paper will feature highlights from one student’s project, who worked with faculty and researchers at the University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal (FH), Germany and the Institute for Water Management and Ecotechnology for four weeks during the summer of 2006. The student’s research project focused on the flooding practices of Germany and the European Union and comparisons with those in the United States.
This paper will also provide information about how this undergraduate research program works for students, faculty, and mentors. Issues for practices and future research will be addressed.
Today, one sixth of the world’s inhabitants are estimated to live in the potential path of a 100- year flood and, unless preventative efforts are implemented on a world wide basis, that number could double or more in two generations 1. In addition, approximately 140 people are killed annually and six billion dollars in property damage is caused by flooding events each year in the United States 2. In Europe, flooding is the most common type of natural disaster. Floods can kill people, make them ill, leave them homeless, damage property, and/or pollute the environment, which is why taking a holistic view of flood awareness, prevention, and management is so important in today’s world.
Flooding is a natural part of the hydrological cycle but has become an all too frequent risk due to climate changes3, especially given improper construction and management of water plains with enlarged population located in flood risk zones. The United States and Germany are both marked with abundant rivers that are often prone to flooding.
European National and Transnational Water Management System
There are three major rivers in Europe that thread through many different countries. The need for cooperation for river management between countries is taken seriously in those countries. Problem with water quality, modified water bodies, insufficient river continuity, deficits in migration of species, floods and droughts are just some of the issues that are addressed. The European Union developed a Water Framework Directive where all countries had to report on the status of their rivers by the end of 2004. The report showed that many rivers and stream had been straightened or modified, many were still polluted, banks were changed from their natural form and almost all flood plains had been cut off by dikes.
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