SedNet Conference 2013

SedNet Conference 2013

Sediment management has proven to be a significant issue in European rivers, estuaries and coastal areas. This has both a quantity and a quality aspect, as prior SedNet activities have clearly shown.

Human interventions, such as river regulation, dredging, coastal and port construction and soil degradation often have large impacts on sediment supply, sediment transport and river and coastal morphology. Sediment-starved systems, particularly in coastal, lowland areas, are more vulnerable to extreme events, putting people, infrastructure and natural capital at risk. Mitigation measures may be technically feasible, but are quickly becoming too costly.

Sediment and biota in river systems have been exposed to multiple and interacting stressors for decades or even centuries. Europe has responded to the most apparent contaminants and pressures with a range of policies and measures since the 1970s. Clear improvements in water quality can be attributed to integrated river basin action plans and to the Programmes of Measures that resulted from the major and coordinated effort of the Water Framework Directive. However, improvements in sediment and longer-lived or bottom feeding biota lag behind due to storage and accumulation of contaminants, costly and laborious monitoring techniques, and sometimes lack of sufficient legal integration of sediment management into legislation.

To sustainably manage sediments, innovative and cost-efficient approaches and solutions are needed. Sediment management, which tends to be focused only on the apparent areas of concern, comes with the challenge of avoiding measures which have only short-term and locally positive effects, whilst having unforeseen negative consequences elsewhere.

Against this background SedNet is organising its 8th international conference in Lisbon. Given the tremendous diversity of Europe's southwest coast, Lisbon is a highly appropriate venue for a conference that will pay special attention to estuarine and coastal sediment management.