Bulgaria: where flood mapping comes automatically

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As part of its drive to implement the second cycle of the EU Floods Directive, Bulgaria has partnered with the World Bank and other international institutions to update the country’s national flood hazard and risk maps. To create the maps, the World Bank has asked HR Wallingford to use its state-of-the-art, automated technology - a step change in flood mapping methodology.

Bulgaria is divided into four River Basin Districts: the Danube; Black Sea; and the East and West Aegean, with each district sharing international borders with neighbours such as Turkey, Greece and Romania. To comply with the Floods Directive, Bulgaria needs to map the flood extents and identify the risks posed to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity as well as develop measures to reduce their impact. To help achieve this, the World Bank is providing advisory support for the preparation of draft River Basin Management Plans and draft Flood Risk Management Plans, in line with the EU Water Framework Directive and Floods Directive requirements.

HR Wallingford’s unique, sophisticated, and automated mapping techniques have already been successfully implemented on a national scale in countries such as Ireland, Moldova and the UK. An automated approach to flood mapping saves time and money, as well as increasing accuracy, because automating the build, gives HR Wallingford’s experienced modellers more opportunity to fine-tune and enhance the model. Fully-automated post-processing also ensures rapid production of consistent and compliant datasets, which are then used to create the maps. The team will also use aerial images for the first time in this project, with the images being used to plug gaps where there is missing data about land use.

Darren Lumbroso, technical director at HR Wallingford said: “We have been at the forefront of flood prevention for over 70 years, and we bring our knowledge and experience to help communities that are vulnerable around the world. We’re looking forward to working in Bulgaria in partnership with the World Bank as the country is preparing to meet the requirements for the second cycle of the EU Floods Directive.”