The first edition of Stormwater Poland conference organised by RETENCJAPL Sp. z o.o. was held on 27-28 March 2017 in Gdańsk. An inspirational and full of history interior of European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk was the venue for the event.
The theme of the conference was structured around the new Water Law, rainwater management in the respect of climatic changes, acquiring funds for modernisation and redevelopment of already existing dewatering systems, new methods of modelling and designing as well as hydrological and meteorological monitoring.
Briefly speaking, the event was a big and positive surprise. Why was it a surprise? Because conferences on rainwater in Poland have been held for over a decade but Stormwater Poland 2017 proved to be different. And why was it so different?
First and foremost because of its high importance, which was determined by the presence of Mariusz Gajda, Under-secretary of State in the Ministry of Environment, Anna Czyżewska, the Director of Water Management Department in National Fund of Environmental Protection and Water Management and Dorota Jakuta, the President of “Polish Waterworks” Chamber of Commerce who gave speeches in the opening panel entitled New Water Law and its Impact on Stormwater and Meltwater Management. The participation of such eminent figures in the conference was a sign that the issue of stormwater in Poland is no longer a marginalised problem of water management and environmental protection. The honorary patronage over the conference of institutions such as National Water Management Authority, the Polish Association of Sanitary Engineers and Technicians and Institute of Meteorology and Water Management also attests to this fact.
The new quality of the conference was set by the participation of a large number of foreign speakers among which were prof. Witold Krajewski from the University of Iowa, the USA, prof. Paul Davies from the University of Bolton, England, prof. Carlo De Michele from Politecnico di Milano, Italy, Mogens Bjørn Nielsen from Denmark, Roman Edela Ph.D., Lothar Fuchs Ph.D., Jens Didszun Ph.D., Thomas Gruenig and Tobias Menzel from Germany, Slavco Velickov Ph.D. from the Netherlands and Víctoriano Sanz Losada from Spain. They gave 11 out of 27 presentations and were often keynote speakers at the conference. The conference was entitled Stormwater Poland 2017 since the English language was the language which most speakers used during their presentations as well as conversations in the lobby.
A large number of conference participants which amounted to over 230 people was a very positive surprise. What is more important there were municipal officials and the representatives of companies from drainage and wastewater management businesses from all over Poland. The representatives of large Polish cities such as Warsaw, Łodź, Cracow, Poznań, Wrocław, Rzeszów, Częstochowa, Słupsk, Gdańsk also attended the conference.
During the first day of the conference there were four sessions and a discussion panel when the participants could ask the speakers questions.
The conference was commenced with a panel New Water Law and its Impact on Stormwater and Meltwater Management during which Minister Mariusz Gajda spoke on the impact of the new Water Law on rainwater and meltwater management in Poland. The talk featured new fees system, main aims of water management reform and ways of achieving them. This panel also presented the issue of financing projects connected with stormwater in cities by National Fund of Environmental Protection and Water Management. Next, the President of “Polish Waterworks” Chamber of Commerce Dorota Jakuta presented the policies of “Polish Waterworks” Chamber of Commerce with respect to stormwater.
The theme of the second panel of the first conference day was the city of Gdańsk. The representatives of Gdańskie Wody and Gdansk Water and Wastewater Infrastructure presented good practices of stormwater management in Gdańsk. Ryszard Gajewski, the President of Gdańskie Wody pointed out that the number of investments connected with flood prevention in the city is rising. Citizens’ Panel, which was held several months prior to the conference was also mentioned here. The citizens taking part in the panel had the opportunity to discuss the activities connected with torrential rain prevention. Maciej Pawelec, a specialist in the field of weather information representing Gdańskie Wody, presented the project of dewatering system for the city. Andrzej Chudziak, Technical Director at Gdańskie Wody also pointed out that there is a need to change the way of designing dewatering system in the city. Gdańsk-themed panel was concluded by a speech given by Jacek Kaszubkowski, the Director of Design Department at Gdansk Water and Wastewater Infrastructure, who spoke on the complex underground water monitoring system in Gdańsk.
The third panel was devoted to the best practice in stormwater management. This panel featured presentations of practices used in foreign cities such as Aarhus in Danmark and Kiel in Germany. The speeches were given by foreign practicians such as Mogens Bjørn Nielsen with a speech Climate Adaptation in the City of Aarhus in which he presented the consequences of climatic changes for the city of Aarhus and the political decisions on the adaptation plan to these changes together with guidelines for areas with flood hazard.
The following speaker was Roman Edel Ph.D. Eng. from Kiel City Council who presented ways of stormwater management in Kiel, Germany. The presentation featured the general plan of rainwater dewatering of the city and examples of rainwater retention. He also presented the policy of rainwater drainage fees calculation used in Germany.
Wojciech Falkowski, the President of the Board of Ecol-Unicon sp. z o.o., which was the General Partner of the conference, spoke on the innovative ways of rainwater retention. He pointed out main challenges for intelligent ways of rainwater retention management in Polish cities. The presentation outlined benefits for local authorities, operators and citizens. An interesting part of the speech was the presentation of Bumerang SMART solution, which is an intelligent monitoring and management system for rainwater drainage network and HYDROZONE modular, multipurpose retention reservoirs fitted in smart devices, which offer solutions for current needs and challenges for “smart cities”.
The third panel was finished with a speech given by a foreign guest Thomas Gruenig M.S. Eng. – Managing Director at HST SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH & CO. KG, who presented intelligent ways of rainwater drainage system management. The presentation was illustrated with examples of solutions which HST implemented in large cities around the world for example in China.
The last panel of the first conference day dedicated to designing and modelling of dewatering systems.
The first speaker of this panel was Slavco Velickov Ph.D. with Bentley Systems who presented examples of how professionals from public and private storm drainage companies including the consulting ecosystem use geospatial mapping, choose appropriate elements for dewatering systems, aiming at efficient, optimal and sustainable designs and the delivery of information necessary for efficient management of dewatering systems. Surely this presentation convinced probably everybody that Bentley software for designing and modelling delivers complete 3D virtual reality.
The second speaker was Paul Davies – a visiting professor at the University of Bolton and a Ove ARUP & Partners representative. Professor Davies presented the issue of the speed of operation of hydrodynamic models in dewatering systems basing on his large knowledge and professional experience. His presentation probably refuted the myth about the possibility of using complex hydrodynamic models in order to simulate runoff from large watersheds in real time.
HOBAS System Polska was the partner of this session. On behalf of the company Marcin Tasak presented an interesting examples of installing retention basins using GRP technology.
The next interesting speech was given by Adrian Arys, who presented the experience of DS Consulting company in the area of preparing complex infrastructure projects. The presentation featured main stages of project preparation giving detailed characteristics of projects on rainwater management. The speaker also spoke about good practice as well as common mistakes and shortcomings leading to faulty project realisation or completing projects that do not meet the intended goals.
The last presentation of the panel during the first day of the conference was given by Tomasz Wilk of Arcadis company, who spoke on Challenges Connected with Stormwater Drainage Illustrated with an Example of Stormwater Management in the City of Słupsk. He used a specific example to show the problem of lack of vital information about the topology of rainwater drainage networks resulting from the lack of complete physical inventory of dewatering systems. He also presented the possibilities of practical usage of PANDa ̶ a local precipitation model in the preparation of reliable rainwater management plan in the city.
The first day of the conference was concluded by a discussion panel which focused on best practices in designing dewatering systems and finding the answer to the question: Is it worth being rainwater operator in the face of the new Water Law? The heated discussion that followed resulted in contradictory answers.
This was the expected result after a number of interesting presentations and the dynamic participation of the panel discussion moderator Maciej Mrowiec Ph.D. Eng., professor at Czestochowa University of Technology. Despite late hour and almost one-hour delay the auditorium was full. However, nobody expected that representatives of competing design and consultancy companies will participate in the discussion presenting similar views. This was a genuine opinion sharing panel without any rivalry nor competition. This is a comforting thought attesting to the fact that it is possible to integrate rainwater industry in Poland. Thus, the mission undertaken by www.retencja.pl over two years ago does not seem like a fantasy.
The first day of the conference finished with a gala dinner at the Radisson Blu hotel located at the old town in Gdańsk, where the guests were entertained by a well-known acrobatic group MiraArt.