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Harmonising Quality Assurance
in model based catchment and river basin management

The HarmoniQuA project has developed a computer based Modelling Support Tool (MoST) to provide a user-friendly guidance and quality assurance framework that will contribute towards enhancing the credibility of catchment and river basin modelling.

HarmoniQuA was a research project supported by the European Commission under the Fifth Framework Programme and contributing to the implementation of the Key Action "Sustainable Management and Quality of Water" within the Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development Programme. Contract n°: EVK1-CT-2001-00097.

An old brochure: in pdf-format can be downloaded in English or in French.

HarmoniQuA formed part of the CATCHMOD cluster of projects; supporting the implementation of the WFD. The project started in January 2002 and has been completed in December 2005. Its total budget was 2.57 million Euro (1.65 million Euro financed by EC). The project has 12 partners in 10 countries (see link) with expertise in ‘all’ domains of model based water management.

The HarmoniQuA project in summary


HarmoniQuA aimed at developing a common, generic methodology, terminology and guidelines with aspects, specific for the domains of water management, to support multidisciplinary model-based water management by developing a knowledge base, building a Modelling Support Tool (MoST), testing these products, extending the project results to the wider professional community and raising awareness to use the developed methodology and tool to facilitate quality assurance and make modelling projects more transparent.

Scientific achievements

Quality Assurance in model-based water management is needed because of some frequently perceived shortcomings, e.g. a lack of mutual understanding between modelling team members, malpractice and a tendency of modellers to oversell model capabilities. The HarmoniQuA project tried to manage quality assurance along 4 directions:

  1. Defining the modelling process, make modelling expertise explicit and structure it in an ontological Knowledge Base (KB) with modelling knowledge and a glossary with terminology; the explicit nature and the fact that it is shared by a substantial part of the professional modelling community represents the main scientific achievement.

  2. Using state-of-the-art knowledge engineering techniques (ontologies implemented in Protégé) to structure the modelling knowledge.

  3. Developing a Modelling Support Tool, (MoST) to support teams in multidisciplinary model-based water management by:

    • Providing the explicit modelling knowledge, filtered for relevant water management domains and the role of the user in the team;

    • Setting up modelling projects for co-operation in (distributed) teams;

    • Monitoring and recording what all team members do in a project;

    • Helping to write reports on performed activities and decisions for various purposes and different audiences.

  4. Helping users to:

    • Edit the KB for maintenance and upgrading with a KB Editor. The KB Editor act as front-end for Protégé and is easy to use for domain experts, untrained in knowledge engineering techniques;

    • Get familiar with the complex methodology and the Modelling Support Tool (MoST) by providing extensive multimedia training material and help system.

Professionals, not involved in the project, qualified the project product as impressive and a standard for professional model use in water management. The technology to structure and support complex processes, in which teams of persons have to co-operate in projects, is a supplementary scientific achievement of HarmoniQuA. It resembles workflow management, but, opposite to workflow management systems, the technology of MoST is designed for science related projects. The explicit knowledge, included in the system, has to be used by experts to achieve optimal results that make the complex process of modelling for water management transparent and opens it up for auditing.

Main deliverables

The HarmoniQuA project delivered one (integrated) product consisting of the following elements:

  • A Knowledge Base with guidance for multidisciplinary model-based water management and a 1000 entry glossary, both implemented in Protégé;

  • Modelling Support Tool, MoST;

  • KB Editor, i.e. a Protégé front-end for domain experts unskilled in knowledge engineering;

  • Websites (public, training, help);

  • Multimedia training material.

In addition a series of reports have been published, outlining the context for the other products:

  • State-of-the-art report on quality assurance in modelling related to river basin management;

  • Position papers for professionals and stakeholders;

  • Reports (on software testing, on 2 series of test cases, on translation requirements and on post-project continuity);

  • Draft quality assurance standards.

Socio-economic relevance and policy implications

HarmoniQuA forms part of the CATCHMOD cluster of projects, supporting implementation of the European Water Framework Directive. MoST and its KB assist in multidisciplinary model based water management and form so an integral part of an infrastructure for WFD implementation. MoST explicitely assumes different roles for members of multidisciplinary teams involved in model-based water management and facilitates participatory aspects, including informing and consulting stakeholders and public. It also encourages co-designing and co-decision making with substantial tasks for stakeholders and public.


HarmoniQuA was a 4 year RTD project developing a quality assurance methodology for multidisciplinary model-based water management by making the modelling process explicit and structure it in an ontological knowledge base. The Modelling Support Tool, MoST, provides guidance derived from the knowledge base dedicated for a water management domain and role of a user. Furthermore MoST records what teams do in model journals for better co-operation, project management and reporting.


MoST and its knowledge base has been developed in three official releases, of which the first two have been tested in two series of real modelling projects and many intermediate releases. This approach ensured that users have been involved in the design and development of tool and knowledge base. Furthermore, it reduced risks, e.g. ending with an immature product or with a product not wanted by its intended users.


The three-stage approach (prototype, full, final) with intermediate releases and strong end-user involvement helped to reach all objectives within the time constraints and within the budget available.

Dissemination of results

A series of dissemination activities resulted in the following:

  • 4 papers in refereed journals (2 published, 1 in press and 1 under evaluation);

  • 12 papers in conference proceedings;

  • 5 (extended) refereed abstracts in conference and workshop proceedings;

  • 9 scientific posters at conferences;

  • 21 presentations at conferences, workshops and other scientific meetings;

  • 7 public reports in the HarmoniQuA series;

  • 14 other reports and publications;

  • 15 National Workshops in 11 European countries;

  • Post-project dissemination: several professional publications, books, book chapters, many presentations on conferences and workshops


Methodology for multidisciplinary model-based water management; modelling guidelines; ontological knowledge base; modelling support tool for teams, multimedia training material.


  1. Wageningen University, Information Technology Group (WU), Wageningen, The Netherlands, co-ordinator and WP-2 leader
  2. Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Copenhagen, Denmark, WP-1 leader
  3. National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Athens, Greece, WP-3 leader
  4. Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Wallingford, UK, WP-4 leader
  5. WL | Delft Hydraulics (WL | DH), Delft, The Netherlands
  6. Cemagref, Antony, France
  7. Bündesanstalt für Gewässerkunde (BfG), Koblenz, Germany
  8. Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), Norrköping, Sweden
  9. VITUKI Plc, Budapest, Hungary
  10. University of Dortmund, Institute of Environmental Research (INFU), Dortmund, Germany
  11. Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil Hidráulica (LNEC), Lisboa, Portugal
  12. DHI Hydroinform a.s. (DHI-H), Prague, Czech Republic


Public HarmoniQuA reports can be downloaded from this page, others are only listed here.

Groot, S. and M. Kapetenaki, 2004. HarmoniQuA Workplan WP3 - testing, D-WP3-1, 11 pp.

Groot, S., and T. Kargas, 2004. HarmoniQuA - WP3 – first round test results, Report D-WP3-2a/3, 297 pp.

Groot, S., Gijsbers, P. and M. Kapetenaki, 2005. HarmoniQuA - WP3 Report – second round testing, Report D-WP3-2b, 125 pp.

Old, G.H. and J.C. Packman (Eds.), 2004. HarmoniQuA Training Material. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, HarmoniQuA-report D-WP4-1, 30 pp. (read).

Old, G.H. and J.C. Packman (Eds.), 2005. Position paper on professional response. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, HarmoniQuA-report D-WP4-2, 35 pp. (read)

Old, G.H. and J.C. Packman, 2005. Post project continuity, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, HarmoniQuA-report D-WP4-4, 13 pp. (read)

Old, G.H., 2005. Translation requirements, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, HarmoniQuA-report D-WP4-5, 5 pp. (read)

Old, G.H., M. Robinson and J.C. Packman (Eds.), 2005. Position paper on stakeholder response. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, HarmoniQuA-report D-WP4-3, 20 pp. (read)

Packman, J.C. and G.H. Old, 2005. European Quality Assurance Standards in River Basin Modelling Practice, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, HarmoniQuA-report D-WP4-6, 18 pp. (read)

Refsgaard, J.C. (ed.), State-of-the-art report on quality assurance in modelling related to river basin management. HarmoniQuA Report, D-WP1-1, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2002. (read).

Rocha, J.S. (Ed.) 2003. Test Report of HarmoniQuA's Modelling Support Tool: Version 1.0. Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil, Lisbon, ISBN HarmoniQuA-report D-WP2-5a, 29 pp.

Rocha, J.S. (Ed.) 2004. Test Report of HarmoniQuA's Modelling Support Tool: Version 2.0. Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil, Lisbon, ISBN HarmoniQuA-report D-WP2-5b, 29 pp.

Rocha, J.S. (Ed.) 2005. Test Report of HarmoniQuA's Modelling Support Tool: Version 3.0. Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil, Lisbon, ISBN HarmoniQuA-report D-WP2-5c, 28 pp.

Scholten, H. and S.A. Osinga, 2002. Requirement analysis report of the HarmoniQuA knowledge base and tools. Wageningen University, Wageningen, 102 pp.

Scholten, H., 2006. Final HarmoniQuA Report 2002 - 2005, Wageningen University, Wageningen, HarmoniQuA-report D-final, 88 pp.

Updated on 14 October 2007 by Huub Scholten, Wageningen University. Contact on MoST, ProST, modelling KB, KB-editor, GlosT or this website? Email: Huub.Scholten@wur.nl or Ayalew.Kassahun@wur.nl .