Geography referenced regional exposure tool for the Rupel basin (Belgium)

Application of GREAT-ER model to the Rupel basin in Belgium


In the GREAT-ER project (Geography-referenced Regional Exposure Assessment Tool for European Rivers), an accurate aquatic exposure prediction tool for chemicals was developed and validated for use within environmental risk assessment schemes. The software system GREAT-ER 1.0 calculates the distribution of predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) of consumer chemicals in surface waters, for individual river stretches as well as for entire catchments. GREAT-ER has been validated by comparing simulations with the results of an extensive monitoring campaign for two 'down-the-drain' chemicals, i.e. the detergent ingredients boron and Linear Alkylbenzene Sulphonate (LAS).

This project consist of two parts: 1) implementation of the Rupel basin in GREAT-ER and 2) Boron-monitoring campaign in the Rupel basin to validate the implementation.

1. Implementation of the Rupel basin in GREAT-ER

Frederik Verdonck his MSc. Thesis at BIOMATH at Ghent University dealt with the application of GREAT-ER, a Geo-referenced Regional Exposure Tool for European Rivers, on the Rupel basin:

In this part, the application of the GREAT-ER methodology to the Rupel basin in Belgium is presented. Spatial concentration patterns of the anionic surfactant LAS were predicted for this basin. Different scenarios and case studies were simulated. LAS removal in waste water treatment plants is high (98-99.9%). Results show that wastewater treatment plants have a significant though local improvement on LAS-concentrations in the rivers. For some subbasins, calculated PEC-values were positioned against biological and physico-chemical water quality measurements. Validation of the GREAT-ER predictions in the Rupel basin is planned and GREAT-ER 1.0 is currently being expanded with models for terrestrial (diffuse input), air and estuarine compartments.

2. Boron-monitoring campaign in the Rupel basin

An evaluation of the reliability of the implementation of the catchment was made by means of comparing model results with a measurement data for the conservative tracer chemical boron (B). The monitoring campaign consisted of monthly samples taken over one year at 28 selected sites. Recorded actual flow conditions at gauging stations were also used to check the accuracy of GREAT-ER hydrological model for the Rupel basin.

The evaluation demonstrated the overall applicability of the Rupel basin in GREAT-ER. Boron monitoring data typically corresponded with model predictions within a factor of two, which is well within the objectives of the model. At a few specific locations clear artificial influences (e.g. flow deviations, industrial or geological inputs) led to larger systematic deviations and require some further refinements. The Rupel basin is currently one of the larger basins in GREAT-ER and a step towards pan-European application of the model.


This case study has been presented as a paper or poster on several national and international workshops and forums:

Verdonck, F., Boeije, G., Schowanek, D. & Vanrolleghem, P.A. GREAT-ER: Geo-referenced Regional Exposure Assessment Tool for European Rivers: a case study for the Rupel basin (Belgium) > Poster. First ESRI BeLux USER DAYS, November 26-27, 1998, Wemmel, Belgium.
> Poster. Final workshop GREAT-ER, March 15, 1999, Arona - Milan, Italy.
> Poster. Ninth Annual Meeting of SETAC-Europe, May 25-29, 1999, Leipzig, Germany.
> Paper & poster. 13th Forum for Applied Biotechnology, September 22-23, 1999, Gent, Belgium. Proceedings FAB, 225-228. Go to paper
> Poster. 2th ESRI BeLux USER DAYS, November 18-19, 1999, Wemmel, Belgium.
Verdonck, F. (1999). Toepassing van een geografisch gerefereerd blootstellingsmodel voor chemicaliŽn op het Rupelstroombekken (in dutch). MSc. Thesis. Universiteit Gent, Faculteit Landbouwkundige en toegepaste biologische wetenschappen. Go to MSc. Thesis

Verdonck, F., Boeije, G., Vanrolleghem, P.A., Feijtel, T.C.J. & Schowanek, D. (2000). Toepassing van GREAT-ER, een blootstellingsmodel voor chemicaliŽn, op het Rupelstroombekken (in dutch). Chemie Magazine, 2, 75-79.

Verdonck, F., Boeije, G., Vanrolleghem, P.A., Feijtel, T.C.J. & Schowanek, D. (2000). Toepassing van GREAT-ER, een blootstellingsmodel voor chemicaliŽn, op het Rupelstroombekken (in dutch). @WEL 4 - Water. Go to Water paper

Verdonck F. & Schowanek D. Application and validation of the Rupel catchment in GREAT-ER.
> Poster. BIWA (IAWQ Belgium) "Happy Hour", March 14, 2000, Brussels, Belgium.
> Poster. 3th SETAC World Congress, May 21-25 2000, Brighton, United Kingkom.

Verdonck, F.A.M., Boeije, G.M., Schowanek, D.R., Vanrolleghem, P.A., ECETOC GREAT-ER Task Force (2000) . Geography-referenced regional exposure tool for European rivers (GREAT-ER): A case study for the Rupel basin. Proceedings 4th International Conference on Integrating GIS and Environmental Modeling (GIS/EM4), Banff, Alberta, Canada, September 2 - 8, 2000. Go to GIS/EM4 paper

Rottiers, A., Verdonck F. & Schowanek, D. Evaluation of the Rupel River Basin Implementation in the GREAT-ER Model through Boron Monitoring.
> Poster. BIWA (IWA-Belgium) "Happy hour", 18 maart 2002, Brussel, BelgiŽ.
> Poster. 12th Annual Meeting of SETAC-Europe, 12-16 mei 2002, Wenen, Oostenrijk.

Project duration: 1998-08-01 - 1999-06-01

Project home page


Frederik Verdonck
Department of Applied Mathematics, Biometrics and Process Control
Coupure Links 653
B-9000 Gent
Tel: +32 (0)9 264 5937
Fax: +32 (0)9 264 6220

Last update: 01 december 2008,

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