…Given our thousand-year history of coping with floods, Dutch engineering has developed a high level of flood protection. Cities have flood protection infrastructure designed to withstand a 1 in 10,000 year flood, while rural and sparsely populated areas are protected against a 1 in 1,250 year flood.
Climate change is a reality here and now. In the mid 1990s, wet weather in the Alps and physical changes to the river channel and development patterns upstream in
One key element of Dutch water management is the "Room for the Rivers" policy, which impacts urban and rural areas along the major rivers. Primary river levees are being set back from the river channel and summer dikes are being lowered. Natural and manmade structures in the river's floodplain - groins, buildings, oxbows - are being removed. River channels are being deepened, broadened. "Green rivers" - dry, grassy channels used for parks and recreation that serve as flood overflow areas during water emergencies - are being created in and around vulnerable Dutch towns. These and similar actions allow rivers to safely overflow their banks during flood emergencies and facilitate efficient water flow downstream and out to sea. More important, these actions lower the overall high-water level, which has numerous benefits....
Room for the Rivers is not without costs. Agriculture is an important component of the Dutch economy, and some farmers have been relocated or have had to give up their property - of course with proper compensation. The
With our extensive history in adapting and mitigating water challenges, we know that tackling climate change can also make countries stronger, wealthier, more productive, creative and innovative. That is what we owe to future generations….
Photo of a Dutch stream, "Smoutjesvliet in Goudriaan," by Johi, via Wikimedia Commons