Water Management

In a coun­try which lies large­ly below sea lev­el, water man­age­ment is a cru­cial aspect of life. The Dutch have been experts at keep­ing their feet dry ever since they set­tled in the marshy lands sur­round­ing the Rhine delta. 

To pro­tect against flood­ing, the Nether­lands have devel­oped an advanced sys­tem of dikes, dams, and flood­gates. Today, the coun­try is at the fore­front of mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary water man­age­ment prac­tices, which are essen­tial to pro­tect against the grow­ing threat of cli­mate change and sea lev­el rise. The last major nat­ur­al dis­as­ter was the North Sea flood of 1953, which killed over 1,800 peo­ple and caused wide­spread dam­age. After­wards the Delta Works were built: a sys­tem of dikes and dams that pro­tects the delta of the riv­er Rhine. Today, a big­ger chal­lenge than hor­i­zon­tal water is ver­ti­cal water: salty ground­wa­ter push­ing through the pold­ers, but main­ly the increase in pre­cip­i­ta­tion due to the cli­mate change. There­fore an impor­tant aspect of Dutch water man­age­ment are nature-based solu­tions. These are sus­tain­able and cost-effec­tive mea­sures that har­ness the pow­er of nature to mit­i­gate the effects of cli­mate change and pro­tect against flood­ing. The Dutch approach the water-relat­ed chal­lenges in an equal­ly inno­v­a­tive and prag­mat­ic man­ner, with projects includ­ing restora­tion of wet­lands, the cre­ation of green roofs and walls, water reten­tion squares, under­ground rain­wa­ter stor­age and float­ing neigh­bour­hoods. The mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures also include the use of green infra­struc­ture, such as nat­ur­al flood­plains and wet­lands, which can absorb excess water and reduce the impact of flood­ing. Find out more dur­ing one of our tours on water management!

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