You are here

Social, Political, Institutional, Economical and Environmental Aspects of Water Engineering

Social, Political, Institutional, Economical and Environmental Aspects of Water Engineering

5 ECTS credits
125 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 4011371ENR for all students in the 1st semester at a (E) Master - advanced level.

Information about this course is applicable on academic year 2017-2018.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method

Grading (scale from 0 to 20)

Can retake in second session
Taught in
Partnership agreement
  • Under interuniversity agreement for degree program
Faculty of Engineering
Responsible organisation
Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering
Educational Team:
Activities and contact hours
  • 24 contact hours Lecture
  • 24 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
  • 12 contact hours Independent or External Form of Study
Course content


Part A of the course covers the following material:

·     Definitions: What is a water resource (WR)? How to define a WR system on which to work/engineer (description, limits)? What do we call engineering, management, development? The accent is put on the way each society is having its own view, its own approach, depending on the 3 factors: availability of water resources, of financial resources and awareness about the water issue;

·     Presentation by the lecturer and discussion of some results, conclusions and recommendations by international organisations;

·     Presentation and discussion by the lecturer of case studies in Asia, Africa and South America. These cover a large variety of situations, such as lakes, coastal areas, large and small rivers, master plan studies, floods and droughts, fluvial problems, water development, irrigation schemes, conjunctive use projects, etc.; and

·     Each student will have to prepare a presentation of a project or a case study, preferably one in which he was actively involved.

Part B: Economic analysis of water resources projects

·     General principles of project evaluation, including economic and financial analysis, shadow pricing, discounting and undiscounted measures of project worth;

·     Nature of costs and benefits in water resources projects;

·     Techniques of comparing costs and benefits: benefit-cost ratio, present net worth, internal rate of return and net benefit-investment ratio;

·     Sensitivity analysis and treatment of uncertainty, including inflation;

·     Farm accounts as the basis for preparing farm plans, making financial projections, and aggregation to project level;

·     Applications to water resources projects; and

·     Manual exercises and case studies.

Part C: Environmental impact assessment of water resource projects

·     Principles, structure and contents of EIA studies: general principles, comparison of the different kinds of procedures;

·     Environmental screening of projects: aim, typology of screening procedures (lists of project types, manual check-lists, computer assisted screening), examples, documentation ; procedures of several organizations: DGCD (Belgian development cooperation), EU etc;

·     Scoping of projects: identification of data, analysis of the proposed action, search for possible alternatives, techniques to identify the relations between the proposed action and the expected environmental impacts (check-lists, matrices, networks), identification of the significant impacts (use of criteria and standards), determination of the contents (items to analyse and techniques to use) of the complete EIA;

·     Overview of the most common negative environmental impacts of water resources projects and some corresponding mitigating measures;

·     More detailed analysis of the impacts of water resources projects on human health, by creating a favourable natural environment for the transmission of pathogens and diseases; and

    -   An environmental analysis of a project in an early planning phase.

Additional info

under construction

Programme Objectives

Algemene competenties


The course consists of 3 parts, respectively Part A: Social, political and institutional aspects; Part B: Economic analysis of water resources projects; and Part C: Environmental impact assessment studies related to water resource projects.


The aim of Part A is to make the students better aware about the variety of problems and issues related to the social, political and institutional aspects of water resources development projects and water resources management.


The objective of Part B is to familiarize students with the economic and financial concepts and methods in project evaluation, applied to water resources projects.  With the course, they will be able to do such an evaluation themselves, except determining shadow prices of resources, which an economist must do.  They will also be able to fully understand the results (criteria) of such project evaluation.


At the end of Part C the students will be able:

·     To conduct an environmental screening (first elementary environmental analysis) of a project proposal, in order to determine if a more complete environmental evaluation (EIA or other) is needed;

·     If a more complete evaluation is needed, to determine the scope and contents of it (scoping) in order to give precise instructions to the specialists making the final EIA;

·     To evaluate the general value, the correctness and the completeness of an EIA that has been made;

·     To propose mitigating measures for the negative environmental impacts of water resources projects; and

To integrate the conclusions of an EIA in the final decisions about a project proposal.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:

  • PRAC Presentation determines 50% of the final mark.
  • SELF Paper determines 50% of the final mark.

Within the PRAC Presentation category, the following assignments need to be completed:

Presentation with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 50% of the final mark.

Within the SELF Paper category, the following assignments need to be completed:

Paper with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 50% of the final mark.

Additional info with regard to grading

Presentation: 50%

Paper: 50%