The Netherlands, always vulnerable to floods, has a new approach to water management

Most of Netherlands is no more than a few feet above sea level, and they’ve suffered major floods many times throught the past hundred years. Sound familiar? They’re approach and experience with flood protection is worth noting as we move along here in Minot. The whole article is worth a read, but the pieces that jumped out immediately follow.

Room for Rivers

The old paradigm is confining rivers and building and strengthening the dikes along the rivers, but we decided to explore a new approach, in which we give more space to the water. We allow the river to expand when large volumes of water are entering our country. It’s not fighting against water; it is living with water.

–Chris Zevenbergen, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Netherlands

For more about the Room for Rivers approach, check out this site focused on the program.

On Planning for the Worst

Beyond giving more space to rivers, the attitude taken is one of that assumes the next flood will happen, they’re no longer asking when. And they’ve built their flood protection systems so the chance of failure in any given year is 1 in 10,000. Here’s the quote that captures the thinking…

In the Netherlands, we are not responding to flood disaster, we are anticipating a flood disaster. That means we have time to see what is the best strategy for our country. That is a process where we are involving all the different stakeholders. It’s a very time-consuming process, but I think we are there now. We are about to implement our new strategy, but it took 10 years to accomplish that.

–Chris Zevenbergen, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Netherlands

Read the full article on flood protection in the Netherlands on the website PRI.

Josh Wolsky

Editor and Publisher of TheMinotVoice, Developer of the #ForMinot Network,  Co-Host of #GoodTalk Minot, Advocate and Friend of the Souris River, Former City Alderman, and clearly -- all things #MakeMinot. Go ahead, don't wait for permission!