Locks, weirs, pumping stations and other hydraulic structures are indispensable for the operation of the water-ways belonging to the WSV. These facilities have to be designed according to hydraulic aspects and optimized as far as possible in order to fulfil the functional requirements. The costs for construction and maintenance of the hydraulic structures should be minimized and the necessary safety for shipping must be warranted. Furthermore, the interests of adjoining land owners, users, residents and ecological questions (e.g. enhancing ecological connectivity with fish ladders) must be cared for.
In this context, the most important biological criteria are met through internal work on hydraulic issues and in corporation with experts in biology.
A further issue is controlling structures to ensure that water can be kept at the desired level in waterways and that flood protection is not compromised in any way. The complex control engineering questions which consequently arise are dealt with in the working group on flow and water level control.
Physical models and numerical simulation processes appropriate to the object of study are used to examine and assess hydraulic structures. In many cases the strengths of both models can be best used by combining both approaches ("hybrid modelling").
The methods themselves are constantly being developed further. At present, for example, attempts are being made to use "rapid prototyping" in physical models in order to increase efficiency. The three-dimensional "OpenFOAM" flow simulation software is being used with numerical models and is also being modified and developed specifically for the purpose of simulating flows near hydraulic structures.