Flood Protection Programme

The primary flood defence systems of our country provide protection against flooding from the North Sea, the major rivers, the IJsselmeer, Markermeer,Volkerak-Zoommeer, and Grevelingenmeer lakes, the tidal section of the Hollandsche IJssel river, and the Veluwerandmeren lakes. With effect from 1 January 2017, once every twelve years the primary flood defence systems will be subjected to a statutory assessment, in order to verify whether the dykes and dams meet the statutory standards. The report on the most recent (third) assessment was drawn up in 2011 and followed by the extended third round of assessments. The national Flood Protection Programme sets out the measures that are required to ensure that the primary flood defence systems meet the statutory safety standards, now and in the future. The Flood Protection Programme is drawn up by an alliance of the district water boards and the central government. The dyke improvements are carried out by the managers of the dyke sections concerned.

Under certain conditions, the district water boards qualify for a government grant for dyke improvement projects. This is funded under a specific “dykes funding arrangement”, which is a component of the Delta Fund. The projects are funded on a fifty-fifty basis, i.e., equal contributions from the central government and the district water boards. The collective district water boards contribute 40% to the dykes funding arrangement (via a cost allocation key). The remaining 10% concerns a project-related contribution from the district water board responsible for the dyke improvement. 

The Flood Protection Programme is an ongoing programme; the measures are scheduled for a period of six years. The programme is aimed at having all flood defence systems meet the new standards by 2050. This will ensure a minimum protection level of 10-5 per annum for every resident of the Netherlands living behind a primary dyke or dam by no later than 2050. The Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment sets down the programme annually under the Delta Plan on Flood Risk Management. To this end, the alliance draws up a new programme proposal every year, that builds on the preceding year’s schedule. The schedule is based on the principle that the most urgent dyke improvements will be carried out first. The urgency is determined on the basis of the new standards that have come into effect in January 2017. The grants from the dyke funding arrangements are awarded on the basis of an effective, restrained implementation of the dyke improvement projects.

The (extended) third round of assessments has generated the current picture of the flood risk management tasking; the projects have been prioritised on the basis of data from the National Flood Risk Analysis for the Netherlands study part 2. In the years ahead, the flood protection tasking will be fine-tuned increasingly further, as more assessment results based on the new standards become available. The nationwide assessment of all primary flood defence systems and engineering structures will be completed in 2023. This will enable the Delta Plan on Flood Risk Management to present an updated picture of the flood risk management tasking in the Netherlands, based on the new standards. The years ahead constitute a transitional period for the Flood Protection Programme: the schedule features dyke improvements ensuing from the (extended) third round of assessments under the old standards (most of which are in progress), while new dyke improvements will gradually be added on the basis of the first round of assessments under the new standards. The dyke improvements based on an assessment under the old standards will be dimensioned in accordance with the new standards.

Flood risk management with added value

The Delta Plan on Flood Risk Management is evidently focused on the flood protection tasking, yet the operating method of the Flood Protection Programme projects is aimed at creating social added value in other fields as well. By carrying out dyke improvement projects, the water managers foster area developments by anticipating the regional preferential strategies, by smart combinations of various taskings in the regions prior to the implementation of a project, by providing room for linkage opportunities, and by involving local residents, stakeholders, and the business community at an early stage.

Dyke improvement in kilometres per year

The aim of the Flood Protection Programme is to bring the primary flood defence systems up to par. Currently, the flood risk management tasking involves the improvement of a total of 1302 kilometres of dykes and 799 engineering structures (based on the third national assessment). The improvement of 748 kilometres of dykes and 275 engineering structures is covered by the Flood Protection Programme. The other projects are carried out under other ongoing implementation programmes.

Figures 8 and 9 present a forecast of the dyke improvements and engineering structures to be improved. Both figures show that the number of completed improvements is rising sharply after the start-up years. The Flood Protection Programme is getting off the ground.

Figure 8

Forecast of the implementation of dyke improvements under the Flood Protection Programme in kilometres. Data pertaining to 2016-2022 is based on realisation in 2016. Data for 2023 is based on the proposed programme for 2018-2023.

Figure 9

Forecast of the implementation of engineering structure improvements under the Flood Protection Programme. Data pertaining to 2016-2022 is based on realisation in 2016. Data for 2023 is based on the proposed programme for 2018-2023. 

Lead times and average cost per kilometre

The alliance partners in the Flood Protection Programme are working on smart and widely supported solutions. Their aim is to shorten the lead times of dyke improvement projects and reduce the cost per kilometre:

  • project lead times: the Flood Protection Programme observes a lead time of two years for explorations, two years for plan elaborations, and two years for realisations (in accordance with the MIRT system). For projects involving a cost of more than 40 million euros, the lead times for plan elaborations and realisations are three years. In the long run, the programme aims to halve the overall lead time of projects.
  • price per kilometre: the cost price of dyke improvements under the Second Flood Protection Programme averages 9 million euros per kilometre. The programme aims to reduce the average cost price by 30%, to 6 million euros per kilometre.

These indicators are still under development. The associated goals are challenging, ambitious, and directive for the course of the programme in the years ahead. The Flood Protection Programme is still in the start-up phase and many dyke improvement projects are still in the exploration phase. In a few years’ time, a larger number of dyke improvements will enter the plan phase and the realisation phase. This will generate sufficient qualitative information to properly monitor the price per kilometre and the lead times. Until such time, the alliance is focusing its efforts on knowledge development.

Knowledge development and innovation essential

(Technological) innovations and knowledge development among the managers constitute an important driving force in the reduction of the cost per kilometre to 6 million euros and the halving of project lead times. To this end, the Flood Protection Programme has set up various tools, such as the two instruments below:

  • General Explorations;
  • Communities of Practice.

General Explorations

General Explorations are intended to develop new knowledge and innovative solutions that bear application in multiple projects. General Explorations are thus an important tool for the entire Flood Protection Programme to increase the efficiency of project implementations, and to develop smarter, widely supported, and cheaper solutions. In order to foster innovation and knowledge development, General Explorations qualify for a 100% grant from the Flood Protection Programme; they are not subject to a project-related 10% contribution from the district water board.

Table 2 contains an overview of the General Explorations that have been launched and the corresponding schedule. The Central Holland General Exploration was completed in 2016. The resulting improvement tasking has been accommodated in the regular programme. The Piping General Exploration will be completed in 2018. This General Exploration will generate innovative measures to combat the piping failure mechanism. The schedule for 2018-2023 comprises the new General Exploration regarding dyke improvement using local soil. The aim is to develop knowledge and innovative solutions for improving dykes using soil from the immediate vicinity. This knowledge will also foster the sustainability of the programme.

Innovations are also realised in individual projects. In 2016, nine projects involving an innovative element were completed. The General Explorations and the innovative project elements contribute to the aim of reducing the average cost per kilometre of dyke improvement.

Outcomes of the Central Holland General Exploration

The completion of the Central Holland General Exploration in 2016 marked an important step in the flood protection of a major part of the Randstad conurbation. The collaboration between the Rijnland, Amstel Gooi en Vecht, and De Stichtse Rijnlanden district water boards and Rijkswaterstaat has generated considerable social gains through the supra-regional solution to the flood risk issue of Central Holland developed by the parties. This has halved the originally expected investment of more than 1 billion euros. At the same time, the parties have gained practical experience with the new Design Instruments and the assessment of flood defence systems in accordance with the new Water Act. The General Exploration has shown that a section of the Lek dyke between Amerongen and Schoonhoven, covering a distance of some 53 kilometres, is in need of improvement. The Stichtse Rijnlanden district water control board is carrying out the dyke improvement under the Strong Lek Dyke project, in the spirit of the new Environment Act. In various pilots the district water board is exploring opportunities for enhancing the appeal of the dyke along with improving its strength. The pilots are being conducted in collaboration with local residents, the municipalities involved, the provinces of Utrecht and Zuid-Holland, Rijkswaterstaat, and NGOs such as the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture LTO and Staatsbosbeheer. In addition to improving flood protection, the focus is also on an optimum quality improvement in terms of spatial design, landscape, nature, and cultural history. The improvement of the first section will commence in 2020 at the earliest. 

Table 2

General Explorations in progress and schedule

Community of Practice

Good knowledge is the mainstay of the Flood Protection Programme. The mutual sharing of new knowledge and experience is important. Within the Flood Protection Programme, the communities are the vehicle for developing knowledge and promoting collaboration within the alliance. A total of eight communities focus primarily on the project implementation systems, involving matters such as the technical application of innovative measures, but also the approach adopted to a dyke improvement project and ways to substantiate local participation. Knowledge developed within the communities helps to achieve the aim of gradually reducing project lead times.

Table 3

Schedule of measures, Delta Plan on Flood Risk Management

Table 4

Measures set out in the Administrative Agreement on the Meuse

Table 5

Reserve for pre-financing

  1. Cover letter and Delta Programme Commissioner’s recommendations
  2. Introductory summary
    1. Continuing the work on a sustainable and safe delta
  3. Part I National level
  4. Progress of the Delta Programme
    1. Progress based on Monitoring, Analysing, Acting
    2. General picture of the progress
      1. On schedule
      2. On track
      3. Integrated approach
      4. Participation
      5. Effectiveness of the regions
    3. Progress in flood risk management
    4. Progress in spatial adaptation
    5. Progress in freshwater supply
    6. Embedding, knowledge and innovation, international collaboration
      1. Embedding
      2. Knowledge
      3. Innovation
      4. International efforts
  5. Delta Fund
    1. Developments in the Delta Fund
    2. Resources from other partners
    3. The financial taskings of the Delta Programme
    4. Financial security of the Delta Programme
  6. Part II Regions
  7. Progress per region
    1. IJsselmeer Region/freshwater supply region IJsselmeer Region
    2. Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden/West-Netherlands freshwater supply region
    3. Rhine/ Area around the major rivers freshwater supply region
    4. Meuse
    5. Southwest Delta/Southwest Delta freshwater supply region
    6. The Coast
    7. Wadden Region
    8. Elevated Sandy Soils South and East
  8. Part III Delta Plans
  9. Delta Plan on Flood Risk Management
    1. Implementation programmes
      1. Flood Protection Programme
      2. Second Flood Protection Programme
      3. Room for the River
      4. Meuse Projects
      5. WaalWeelde
      6. IJsselmeer Closure Dam
      7. Repair of Oosterschelde and Westerschelde stone claddings - Zeeland foreland deposits
    2. River widening in interconnection with dyke improvement
    3. Studies ensuing from knowledge agenda and in regions
  10. Map Flood risk management measures
  11. Delta Plan on Freshwater Supply
    1. Measures to ensure the availability of freshwater in the Netherlands
  12. Map Freshwater supply measures
  13. Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation
    1. Introduction
      1. Justification
      2. Aim and state of affairs of the Delta Plan
      3. Collective realisation
    2. Context
    3. “Analysis, Ambition, Action” – state of affairs
      1. Waterlogging
      2. Heat stress
      3. Drought
      4. Consequences of urban flooding
      5. Current approach
    4. Our intentions: expediting and intensifying
      1. Vision: from the present to 2050
      2. Ambition and strategy
      3. Interim goals
      4. Nationwide governance framework regarding spatial adaptation
      5. Funding
    5. Appendix 1. Action programme
    6. Appendix 2. Outcomes of regional meetings and round table discussions
  14. List of Background Documents
    1. Background documents
  15. Colophon
    1. Colophon content Delta Programme 2018
  16. How to use Delta Programme 2018