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Methods and actions

The project was realised in 4 years by carrying out twelve actions. A prototype was developed consisting of three sets of algorithms. Three development cycles in which the prototype was refined, resulted in the final model.


Figure: Functional scheme of WEISSWEISS focuses on emissions at the source (both point and diffuse) and their pathways to water bodies.

Emissions are calculated on a sector-by-sector basis including: agriculture, industry, households and traffic. The timeframe of the calculations is one year. The mean quantitative environmental indicators calculated are the total gross emission and the total load to water per pollutant,  expressed as kg/ha.j.

In a spatially-explicit selected region, the system has the capability:

  • to ‘apportion’ pollutant sources for both indicators (gross emission and total load),
  • to identify trends over the years,
  • to determine the main sources responsible for the chemical status of the water bodies,
  • to improve the linkage of emissions to pollutant concentrations,
  • to provide data to feed into water quality models on catchment level.

The WEISS system operates at a high geographical resolution. The project resulted in a prototype for the Flemish region of Belgium with a resolution of 1 ha.


Basic concept:


Gross emission = EF X EEV = Emission factor x Emission Explanatory Variable



Bottom-up approach

The WEISS system will use a bottom-up approach whenever it is possible. The system however is able to use a top-down approach if necessary.


Combining algorithms

WEISS consists of three sets of algorithms. Algorithms from each of the sets are chained to perform the necessary calculations.

  1. Spatial distribution
    All the sources are spatially distributed according to their occurrence,
    for example point, surface or linear sources, and availability of data.
  2. Transport routes
    All relevant transport routes (pathways) from emission sources to surface water are determined and quantified.
  3. Accounting
    Accounting of the emissions will be possible for all the nodes of the transport routes. This will significantly improve the reporting process. Reporting will be possible for any selected area.


The WEISS framework and its algorithms were implemented, applied and validated in three consecutive loops of the Evolutionary Delivery Model (EDM), each of which resulted in a prototype of increasing completeness and complexity. A very close collaboration between the end-users and the developers during the full implementation process guided this process.

The prototypes were applied to five cases that are selected for the various algorithms they require and the particular challenges they pose in terms of calibration and validation.


Project Area

The project area is the Flemish region of Belgium. Flanders is mainly part of the International River Basin District of the Scheldt. The system is easily adaptable for use in other regions and is freely available to that effect.


Main outputs

  • Significant emission sources.
  • Gross and net emission maps at high spatial resolution (kg/ha.year).
  • Data for reporting.
  • Emission trends.
  • Input to water quality models.
  • Scenario calculations and planning support for determining
    mitigation measures.




Figure: Scheme representing the twelve ActionsAction 1: Development of a project website.

The website distributes information to the general public and serves as a platform for the exchange of information among the partners and the various management bodies of the project.

Actions 2 and 3: Local and EU-wide Stakeholder Consultation

The functional and user requirements of the WEISS system were largely known at the beginning of the exercise. They were optimised and finalised after consultation of the stakeholders. To that effect two workshops were organised: one for local stakeholders (Action 2) and a second one for stakeholders from the EU-Member States (Action 3).
Some of the stakeholders consulted were asked to continue their involvement in the project as a part of the Advisory board (see also Action 11 Project management).

Action 4: Determination of the WEISS Tool specifications

The functional and technical specifications of WEISS were further elaborated and finalised.

Action 5: Design and Architecture

The specifications were translated into an appropriate design and architecture. Three sets of algorithms were developed:

  • one set for the detailed spatial allocation of the sources of emissions
  • a second set for the description of the pathways of the emissions from the sources to the water bodies
  • a third set for the accounting of the pollutants in various nodes on their path to the water bodies. 

Action 6 and 7: Prototype Implementation & Data collection

The WEISS tool was finalised by means of an iterative implementation process (Action 6). Each of the 3 cycles resulted in an operational prototype of growing complexity and completeness. The prototype resulting from the third cycle is the end-result of this project. As part of each of the three cycles, the prototypes were stocked with collected data (Action 7).

Action 8: Prototype Application, Calibration and Validation

Each of the prototypes was calibrated and validated. The final prototype was then applied to five selected cases. Ultimately the level of robustness and usability of the final prototype was tested by the intended end-users.

Action 9: Dissemination and Training

The WEISS-tool is duly documented. Training material was developed so that potential users know how to apply and operate it in their own organisation. The system was presented and discussed in a final dissemination seminar.

Action 10: Communication to the General Public

A number of additional communication and dissemination products was developed as part of Action 10. Included are leaflets, a USB-stick featuring the WEISS system and a layman’s report. An ’AfterLife+’ communication plan is to assure the continued application and development of WEISS.

Action 11: Project Management 

Action 12: Project Monitoring

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