7.3.3

Drought

Wide range of drought-related issues

Drought is defined as a shortage of water of satisfactory quality in the soil and the water system. The impact increases as the drought persists. Potential consequences include:

  • accelerated soil subsidence, foundation damage, and other damage to structures due to falling groundwater levels;
  • drying up of nature reserves and loss of crops due to lack of precipitation and falling groundwater levels;
  • limitations for the shipping sector;
  • issues related to water quality (salinisation, blue-green algae infestations) and water quantity. 

Soil subsidence particularly affects areas with peaty soils. Decomposition of organic matter releases CO2. Soil subsidence calls for water level adjustment in order to continue to meet the consumption needs of an area. Low groundwater levels also cause damage to the foundations of infrastructure and buildings, resulting in a considerable increase in management and maintenance costs of public and private spaces. Desiccation of green areas and farmland will reduce crop evaporation, whereas evaporation is important in the crusade against heat stress. In many cases, the impact of drought will only manifest itself in the long run. Occasionally, its impact will be acute, such as the failure of the dried-up peaty embankment near Wilnis in 2003.

Drought leads to more heat

A Deltares study shows that urban heat increases substantially in periods of drought. This is because drought cuts by half evaporation by trees and plants in the city compared to normal conditions. For that reason, an interconnected strategy is imperative when tackling drought and heat stress. The most effective measures for combating desiccation are reducing the proportion of impermeable paving, disconnecting downpipes, and the expansion of surface water.

High cost, in particular due to foundation damage

According to Deltares forecasts, drought tops waterlogging when it comes to societal costs. The restoration of private and public foundations accounts for a large proportion of such costs.


drought tops waterlogging when it comes to societal costs.

Climate-proof Cities Manifest, DPNH 2013 based on Deltares.

Insight into water availability, duty of care with respect to groundwater

An imminent water shortage in the main water system will carry a temporary shift in the distribution of water available in rivers, canals, and lakes. This national “prioritisation scheme” ensues from the Water Act. The Delta Decision on Freshwater Supply has introduced the Water Availability instrument: this provides insight into the volume of water available to various consumers under normal and dry conditions. The instrument is now being gradually substantiated, region by region. The municipalities have a duty of care regarding groundwater flooding and phreatic decline in public areas, but real estate owners also have a major responsibility of their own with respect to groundwater-related damage.

  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