Flood protection in the Netherlands – study visit to Room for the River project in Nijmegen and to Delta Works

During last week, one of our team members visited various flood protection and water management projects in the Netherlands together with collaborating international researchers.


(c) C. Stephan

An impressing example of an interdisciplinary approach towards flood risk management is the Room for the River project in the city of Nijmegen, which is part of the National Room for the River program setup after severe river flooding  in 1993 and 1995.In a presentation and excursion along the river Waal, the main distributary branch of the Rhine, landscape architect Mathieu Schouten presented the main ideas of an integrated bottom-up approach for the planning of interventions, which included aspects of flood protection, increase in biodiversity and urban planning. Inclusive stakeholder management and the involvement of local people in the landscape design have made this project a showcase for governance of the water-scape of the river Waal. Please find more information on the Room for the River project in Nijmegen on the project website.

Besides this integrative approach of flood management and landscape design, the researcher visited parts of the Delta Works.


(c) C. Stephan

These are a series of infrastructural projects that protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from floods from the sea. The Netherlands has a total of 17,500 kilometres in dykes. Without dykes, dunes and storm surge barriers, today 40% of the country would be permanently under water. The large infrastructural interventions, carried out in the SW of Netherlands between 1957 and 1986, strongly affected the ecological characteristics of the estuarine transit zones. While in the last years ecological rehabilitation has gained importance in the delta areas, at the same time transport by cargo ships and protection against flooding as well as long-term planning for sea level rise need to be considered.