DEL102 – 11203221 Pilot Project Navigation with Nature®: a CoVadem application for the Chindwin River, Myanmar

Aanleiding van het project

Inland waterway transport is an excellent example of ecosystem services that benefit societies living around rivers. The dominant approach has been to adapt the river by means of river engineering measures to facilitate the navigation needs (viz. stable deep channel). However, this approach disrupts the natural system and leads to long term impacts on the riverine environment. To minimise such impacts; the concept of Building with Nature emerged.
With the recent technological development in the digitalisation domain (e.g. connectivity, and availability of large open source datasets), it is possible to take a step forward to enable an improved operational management approach of the fairway. Building on the CoVadem technology ( that offers new opportunities to manage the navigation, the shipping can be adapted to the changing river conditions rather than the river being adapted to the shipping needs; this concept is called Navigation with Nature and will be piloted in the Chindwin river in Myanmar. The concept is particularly relevant for morphodynamic active rivers (e.g. Ayeyarwady, Mekong, Rio Magdalena, etc.). These rivers share a common aspect of having a rather fast migration of the navigation channel, which may shift hundreds of meters during a wet season. Consequently, navigation may be hampered because of these changing conditions, ultimately risking accidents by grounding vessels. Such an approach also supports navigation in a more sustainable way, by reducing the dependency on hard interventions. ( offers new opportunities to manage the inland waterway
Deltares with CoVadem Services and CDR international are aiming to build on the recent developments of CoVadem to offer solutions, which are applicable for rivers other than the Rhine where the technology has been developed. In that, there are new challenges that require improvement of our knowledge about data-model integration, automated utilisation of data feeds from the ves

Doel van het project

The main aim of this project is to further deepen, broaden, and integrate our knowledge and improve our tools (add-ons and coupling) for the situation of highly morphodynamic rivers to be able to link multiple sources of data with models in an operational mode.
The data sources include:
 depth data collect by vessels sailing along a given route via CoVadem Box,
 meteorological data from local stations and from open sources,
 discharge and water level data from measurement stations, and
 river planform from satellite images.
The models include:
 Hydrological (rainfall run-off) model for discharge computation,
 hydrodynamic model for water level computation.
The tools and add-ons aims to:
 generate bed level, and consequently depth maps from scarce data (few ships equipped with CoVadem, and low traffic intensity, and
 develop an approach that is suitable for morphodynamic active rivers.
The research component in this project focuses on the data-model integration, data assimilation techniques, and the development of tools.

Omschrijving van de activiteiten

Within this project, the following main activities will be carried out:
1- Modelling in data-scarce environment, utilising earth observation datasets, in combination with local measurements; (Industrieel onderzoek)
1.1- Catchment modelling:
We further develop, adapt and utilise the recently developed rapid hydrological modelling approach (3 clicks to model) to build and utilise models for data scarce environment – upscaling to application in relation to CoVadem.
1.2- Hydrodynamic modelling; one-dimensional modelling of long river reach in a data scarce environment.
We further develop, adapt, and utilise the recently developed EO-Rivers toolbox, which is rapid river model building python toolbox that is recently developed to function within Delta Shell – upscaling to application in relation to CoVadem.
2- Configuration of an operational navigation depth forecast system (using FEWS), based on CoVadem Technology; (Industrieel onderzoek)
2.1- Transformation of the specific FEWS configuration for a more generic applicability.
The CoVadem system has been developed for the specific settings of the Rhine in the Netherlands. The challenge here is to transform such configuration to suite generic cases and suitable for the international market.
2.2- API adaption to allow the system to function in the cloud
So far, the forecasting system is run locally. The next step is to enable the operationalisiation of the system in its entirety in the cloud (Amazon cloud)
3- Waterway depth forecasting procedures – (Industrieel onderzoek):
3.1 – Develop a methodology to deal with planform changes
3.2- Develop an approach for depth map creation suitable for scarce data (suitable for few number of vessels and low frequency of traffic)

Verwachte resultaten

Wanneer (jaar)
Improved tools to enable modelling in data-scarce environment
Generic Configuration for CoVadem application in international context with cloud service
Tools for Waterway depth forecasting
At least one publication in international conference


The CoVadem technology has been developed in the context of the Rhine River, which is a trained river with a stable navigation channel. The navigation intensity and the number of vessels with the CoVadem box are sufficiently many such that high quality data can be obtained. And, models are well developed for operational use. These conditions are not the same the Chindwin River, which is morphologically active, deep channel position changes over time, with few ships using the CoVadem box. Innovation is needed to enable the utilisation of the CoVadem technology for these conditions, which is prevailing in many rivers.
We can list a number of challenges that require innovation, as follows:
 Modelling in a data-scarce environment
 Integration of meteorological datasets from open source data, or global models (e.g. GLOFFIS) with data from local sources to improve the quality of the predictions of discharge and subsequently water levels.
 Development of an approach to identify river planform changes and major shifts in the location of the deep channel and to enable the assimilation of such information in updating the navigation route and update the hydrodynamic model with the most recent dimensions.
 Assimilation of the scarce depth data coming from the few vessels equipped CoVadem box with pre-exiting bed level data to maximise the quality of the navigation depth prediction.
 Offering Cloud computing based services, which involves running the entire system in the cloud.


Welk product (zie boven)?
Wie gaat het gebruiken?
Wie gaat ervoor zorgen, en hoe?
improved tools to enable modelling in data-scarce environment
Industry: for utilisation in projects in data scarce environments
Researchers: for utilisation of open earth datasets and further development of tools and scripts
Deltares will maintain it and also apply it in international projects.
Further development into stand-alone tool(s) is foreseen
Generic Configuration for CoVadem application in international context with cloud service
Industry: this can support the scaling of the CoVadem services to rivers other than the Rhine, and suitable for the international market
Deltares will maintain it by applying it in more cases and further improves it.
Tools for Waterway depth forecasting
Industry: the tools can be made available for consultants that would like to offer similar service
Researchers: the tools will be made available for further researcher
Deltares will maintain it by applying it in more cases and further improves it
Scientific paper
Open to all
Joint contribution of Deltares and partners

Link naar projectresultaten…