Hydrographer Rik Kaars

"I wanted a job that would allow me to be outside a lot of the time and to see something of the world”. This is what Rik Kaars tells us as he is finishing a digital chart whose data he has just checked. At the time he is based at the Public Works and Water Management offices in Arnhem: the survey and information division for the eastern part of the Netherlands. "I am really enjoying my time here. It’s just that I have worked too hard and consequently the budget is empty. Next week I will be transferred elsewhere, probably to the port of Antwerp.”

As soon as Rik finished studying hydrography at the Maritime College in Amsterdam, he was detached –by Atlas DOOR– to a number of different projects, both at home and abroad. "As well as in other places, I have been in India and Russia for a while. The first project was the HAM’s (now Van Oord, ed.) near Mumbai. I also spent two months in Sakhalin. When I started work, I did indicate I would like to work abroad, but not for too long a period of time. Atlas DOOR has made that possible. One of the longer projects I have worked at as a surveyor was on the Ketelmeer. This was an assignment for a number of dredging companies. Normally two surveyors are assigned to any one project, but on this one there were about twenty of us. Right now I have been with Public Works and Water Management for the last two years. Even though I do not spend as much time outside as I used to, I still feel like an hydrographer. To think I never even knew this job existed before I did my study orientation!"

Clear picture

"At present my work consists largely of correcting survey data, supplied by the surveyors. They always contain false reflections and filter errors. Our clients are not interested in those; they want as clear a picture as possible of the riverbed. Admittedly, my job is not as varied as it used to be in my prior assignments, but I am not worried about that. I also spend one day a week in Middelburg."

Always in motion

"The area we survey is quite extensive. It doesn’t just cover the big rivers but also the Twentekanaal, for instance. We have to survey the Rhine’s tributaries at least once a year, but we also receive a lot of requests for detailed surveys. As far as the Waal is concerned our survey area is between the 857 and 954 kilometre markings, between Lobith and Vuren. Altogether we have three available survey vessels, which have to be deployed as efficiently as possible. Surveying is an on-going operation by the way; the riverbed is always in motion. The very day after it has been surveyed, the situation on the bed has already changed. We try and detect patterns in the changes, particularly in order to determine the prevalent levels of high water. These in turn are essential to both maintenance and management of the riverbed as well as the dykes. The hydrographical charts are available to our clients in various formats, including printed charts. So far our data is not accessible to everyone, but sooner or later it will be…..”