Structural measures in hydraulic engineering projects

The current state of knowledge on structural measures in hydraulic engineering projects will be brought together and made available to specialists in the form of a handbook and technical sheets.


  • Lead school School of Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering
  • Institute Institute for Infrastructure and Environment IIU
  • Research unit Geotechnics and Special Civil Engineering group FGGS
  • Funding organisation Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (Bundesverwaltung)
  • Duration (planned) 15.07.2023 - 30.11.2024
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Jolanda Jenzer Althaus
  • Head of project Prof. Dr. Jolanda Jenzer Althaus
  • Project staff Gianluca Flepp
    Ivo Gasparini
    Fabien Waridel
  • Partner Wasser-Agenda 21
    PraxisNatur Hartmann
    Kanton Basel-Stadt
    Emch + Berger AG
    Holinger AG
    IUB Engineering AG
    Aquabios GmbH
    Sieber & Liechti GmbH
    WFN - Wasser Fisch Natur AG
    NH Baumanagement AG
    Schweizerisches Kompetenzzentrum Fischerei SKF
  • Keywords Hydraulic engineering, structuring measures, flood control, ecology, revitalisation


Hydraulic engineering projects are diverse and complex and must meet the requirements of flood control and ecology. Regardless of whether it is a maintenance measure or a flood control or revitalisation project, the natural state of the watercourse should be maintained or restored. This is often not possible. A lack of space and of flow dynamics prevents the formation of self-dynamic structures, or the formation of such structures would be lengthy in time. In many hydraulic engineering projects, structural measures are therefore used to initiate the river’s own dynamics and promote habitat diversity. The aim of structural measures is to create habitats for flora and fauna that are diverse and appropriate for the area. Well-designed structures allow scours to form, turbulence is encouraged, and there is variability in terms of flow velocities and water depths. The way in which the desired structural measures are implemented is fundamental, since it ensures that the structures and habitats develop effectively and are accepted by the biotic communities. Successful examples have been documented. Yet, what is missing is an overall view of the structural measures that lead to the desired ecological effect without jeopardising flood control.

Course of action

As part of the project, the researchers are compiling the current state of knowledge on structural measures in hydraulic engineering projects. To this end, examples that have been successfully implemented (best practices) throughout Switzerland are collected and documented. Unsuccessful examples will also be listed to avoid renewed mistakes in practice. The project incorporates different perspectives (hydraulic engineering, fisheries and nature conservation). It aims to provide information on how structural measures can also be used to support the watercourse’s dynamics. Structural measures are not suitable in all hydraulic engineering projects. Therefore, the BFH project will lay down the requirements and the methods recommended for each examined structural measure, or if no such intervention is advisable. The researchers will document any knowledge gaps. On the one hand, the project aims to develop a handbook that clearly summarises the key findings of the project. Furthermore, technical sheets will be created for selected structural measures in order to support their targeted and flood-proof use in hydraulic engineering projects. They will present ideas and inspiration for planning, whilst also pointing out key facts that need to be considered during planning and execution on the site.

Strukturierungsmassnahmen in einem Fluss.
Strukturierungsmassnahmen initiieren die Eigendynamik des Gewässers.