The Scheldt estuary, which is subjected to the tides, is 160 km long and runs through the Netherlands and Belgium from the mouth up to the sluices in Ghent. The Scheldt basin, including tributaries Rupel, Durme, Dender, and Leie has a surface of 21.000 km² and transports freshwater to the North Sea.
The hydrodynamics of the system can alter strongly due to the influence of both natural and anthropogenic factors. Different aspects of hydrodynamics, such as the amount of water daily running in and out of the Scheldt and its flow rate, largely determines the physico-chemical conditions and morphological changes in the system. In addition, they are also important for shipping and safety. Tides, water levels, water management, and wave action (by wind and vessels) are closely monitored in the entire basin in the interest of accessibility, security and naturality. Moreover, research is carried out to estimate, for example, the consequences of sea level rise due to climate change and the risk of inundation by extreme tides or large amounts of precipitation. The insights obtained by monitoring and research are utilized to shape and evaluate the management of the estuary and to compose the Sigma Plan for Flanders and ‘Natuurpakket Westerschelde’ and ‘Delta Programme’ in the Netherlands.