Interview C.J. van Leeuwen and G.A. van den Berg - The European rivers, lifeline yet daunting risk
Resilience Management & Governance
“Historically speaking, The Netherlands has been marred by the constant danger from the North Sea. A very popular example of the danger posed by the North Sea took place in early 1953, a large part of the south-west flooded due to a storm and high water, causing almost two thousand deaths and unspeakable damage. This disaster prompted the Dutch to embark on a massive defensive line of dams called the Deltaworks. While the warfront towards the sea has been secured. Now the trouble comes from the other directions. The many rivers flowing through the Netherlands have been growing and flooding steadily the past few years. In July 2021 this reached its latest high point, the European floods of 2021 were among the worst seen in decades. Thus, the focus has shifted from the sea to the rivers.
How did the regional and national governments work to improve rivers so far?
One of the most pivotal Dutch waterworks projects was the so-called Room for the River project. This effort by all levels of governance launched in 2007 and ended in 2019, with a focus on giving the rivers more room to lodge the excess of water into the ground or the sea. All in response to high water and subsequent widespread evacuations in the mid-1990s.
Many measures were taken to give several the Dutch rivers that stem from the Rhine more room and ease when it comes to transporting the water. A few examples of these are heightening or removing existing dikes, the removal of unnecessary bridges and even the creation of smaller canals next to the river to essentially create a second river.”
(Citation: van de Pol, K. – Interview C.J. van Leeuwen and G.A. van den Berg – The European rivers, lifeline yet daunting risk – www.svjmedia.nl (2022)25 January)