Rhine/ Area around the major rivers freshwater supply region

Implementation and updating of flood risk management strategy

The preferential strategy for flood risk management along the Rhine focuses in particular on the prevention of flooding and control of consequential damage. The tasking is comprehensive and urgent. The core of the strategy is a powerful interaction of dyke improvement and river widening. This generates a safe, resilient, and vital area around the major rivers, and opens up opportunities for tying in with efforts in the fields of the economy, spatial planning, and nature.

preferential strategy for flood risk management along the Rhine

See DP2015, preferential strategy for the Rivers.

On schedule

The implementation agenda for the Rhine features several measures and studies, virtually all of which are progressing as planned. The study into the benefit and necessity of keeping open the option of changing the discharge distribution among the Rhine tributaries after 2050 is taking longer than planned. In the purview of this study, a tool that has already been developed is currently being prepared for use in the Nederrijn-Lek area. This is expected to enable completion of the study in 2017. Subsequently, the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment will decide whether or not the option will be kept open, at the suggestion of the Delta Programme Commissioner and following consultation with the provinces and district water boards. This decision, expected by early 2018, will be incorporated into Delta Programme 2019. The Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden Regional Consultative Body and the Rhine Administrative Platform are involved in the process and provide input wherever required.

The dyke improvements set out in the Flood Protection Programme (HWBP) are on schedule. Urgent projects include the improvement of the north bank of the Waal and of the Grebbe dyke, as in relative terms, the safety of these locations falls considerably short of the new standards that have been in force since 1 January 2017. The assessment of the Grebbe dyke by the Vallei en Veluwe district water board is the first one conducted in accordance with the new standards and approved by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate. The Central Holland General Exploration shows that improvement of the Lek dyke, between Amerongen and Wijk bij Duurstede, is urgent as well. More urgent sections may follow. Virtually all the dyke sections along the north bank of the Waal have entered the exploration phase (Gorinchem-Waardenburg, Tiel-Waardenburg, Nederbetuwe, and Wolferen-Sprok). One of the alternatives in the Wolferen-Sprok exploration involves relocation of the dyke near Oosterhout. This looks ahead to the preferential strategy for the period beyond 2030-2050. The region thus aims to capitalise on an opportunity for the “powerful interaction”. The exploration of the Gameren project, on the south side of the Waal, was completed in 2016; the plan elaboration phase will commence in 2017.

Central Holland General Exploration

As regards the primary flood defence systems, this general exploration has been renamed project Sterke Lekdijk [Strong Lek dyke].

In accordance with the Regional Proposal for the Rhine, explorations and plan elaborations have commenced for river-widening measures. The Varik-Heesselt MIRT exploration and the Tiel-Waardenburg HWBP exploration, for which a joint environmental impact assessment procedure has been launched, are on schedule. A Scope and Level of Detail Memorandum for these projects was adopted on 15 November 2016. The MIRT exploration regarding the IJsselpoort River Climate Adaptation Park is taking a year longer than planned on account of its interconnection with the study into river widening in the bifurcation points area and the intended participation process. The exploration will be completed in the spring of 2019. The Gelderland Provincial Executive has reported this to the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment in January 2017. With respect to the IJssel delta/Reevediep phase 2, the central government, the provinces of Overijssel and Flevoland, and the Zuiderzeeland district water board signed an Administrative Agreement on 14 December 2016 to expedite the implementation: all the measures are scheduled to be completed by 2022, including the removal of the Roggebot lock. This will produce a significant fall in flood level, ranging from more than 0.5 metre near Zwolle to 1 metre south of Kampen.

On track

The Administrative Platform on the Rhine Delta Programme has agreed to update the preferential strategy in the Rivers Ambition project. The goal is to develop a realistic and feasible long-term proposal for the dyke improvement – river widening combination. In 2017, the region will be working on updating the preferential strategy for the IJssel, Waal, and the bifurcation points area. The aim is for the regional parties and the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment to enter into an administrative agreement in early 2018, as proposed by the Delta Programme Commissioner, regarding long-term river-widening measures in interconnection with dyke improvement along the Rhine tributaries. The joint ambition is to embed the measures in a programme (involving a substantial number of measures) in order thus to ensure the long-term resilience of the river system. The new preferential strategy will therefore be more than a strategic compass.

The administrative agreement will comprise agreements regarding a realistic bandwidth for the water level line along the Rhine tributaries to be set down in the future (to be set down in the Design Tools), short-term and long-term co-funding (possibly via a fund), the embedding of the agreement in law, and the governance (status, allocation of responsibilities, procedures, agendising, and regulatory framework for river widening).

In the preferential strategy, retention in the Rijnstrangen is an option for the period beyond 2050. In 2017, another study will be conducted into the optimum use and an optimum design of this retention area under the new standards. The study will also address the value of retention in an adaptative strategy and contribute to the updating of the preferential strategy. 

Measures pertaining to the bifurcation points need to be considered from an interconnected perspective in order to preserve the current discharge distribution. To this end, measures in the Huissensche Waarden and the Meinerswijk neighbourhood (Arnhem) are being reviewed. The province of Gelderland is exploring, in collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat, whether these additional measures are feasible and can count on public support. A study by Rijkswaterstaat shows that the IJsselpoort River Climate Adaptation Park project can impact the discharge distribution among the Rhine tributaries. IJsselpoort River Climate Adaptation Park comprises several river-widening projects along the IJssel, for which scenarios have been developed featuring different degrees of river widening in terms of both landscape and time. Rijkswaterstaat is investigating the scope available for water level decline in IJsselpoort River Climate Adaptation Park, if other measures in the bifurcation points area prove impossible. 

A further study has been conducted into the need for raising the dykes along the Nederrijn and Lek. The results show that on account of the rising sea level and soil subsidence, the western part of this area presents the biggest challenge: along the Lek downstream from the Hagestein weir. However, this part of the Nederrijn and Lek offers few opportunities for river widening. The results of the study also show that upstream of the Hagestein weir, there is little or in some sections, no need at all for raising the dykes. In this section of the Nederrijn and Lek, river widening would be an option. Local opportunities for river widening, whether or not in combination with dyke improvements, measures under the Framework Directive on Water, and other linkage opportunities, are currently being explored. In 2017 it will be decided whether and how the Nederrijn and Lek will be accommodated in the updated preferential strategy.

Collaboration with North Rhine-Westphalia

The Netherlands (Rijkswaterstaat) and the German state of North Rhine-Westphaliaare jointly investigating the flood risk along the Rhine in the border area. With respect to the two cross-border dyke rings, they have adopted the Dutch flood risk approach, as developed in the Veiligheid Nederland in Kaart [Safety Map of the Netherlands] and the Delta Programme. A remarkable feature of these dyke rings is that flooding in the Dutch section leads to wet feet in the German section and vice versa. For that reason, these areas are considered as a single entity in this study.  

The study maps out the differences in flood risk management, current and future flood risks for inhabitants on both sides of the border, and potential measures to reduce the risk of flooding. It also seeks to share knowledge on the impact of the climate on the Rhine discharges. The study thus provides the building blocks for coordinating future flood risk management measures on both sides of the border. The analyses have commenced; the first results will be available at the end of 2017. 

Integrated approach

The powerful interaction between dyke improvement and river widening has embedded an integrated approach into the preferential strategy for the Rhine. It will be substantiated further in the updated preferential strategy, which will be aimed at an adaptive implementation programme for the Rhine area, with spatial quality as an integral component. The Exploration into the spatial quality of the Rhine tributaries provides tools for the preservation, enhancement, and renewal of spatial qualities along the IJssel and the Waal-Merwedes, and in the bifurcation points area. 

The Administrative Platform on the Waal-Merwedes and the HWBP Waal administrative support group have amalgamated into a single administrative consultative body in order to foster the combination of flood risk management measures and integrated area development. Such efforts are currently under way in, e.g., the combined environmental impact analysis procedure for the Tiel-Waardenburg HWBP exploration and the Varik-Heesselt MIRT exploration, and by including the Oosterhout dyke relocation as a variant in the Wolferen-Sprok HWBP exploration. 

The district water boards along the IJssel are working on an adaptive implementation strategy to bring the IJssel dykes up to standard in interconnection with spatial developments and quality along the IJssel. The IJssel steering group has adopted this implementation strategy as a building block for the combination of dyke improvement and river widening. Another example of an integrated approach is the Grebbe dyke project. In collaboration with the municipality of Wageningen, the provinces of Utrecht and Gelderland, Staatsbosbeheer, and Rijkswaterstaat, the Vallei en Veluwe district water board has launched an exploratory study into the improvement of the Grebbe dyke along the Nederrijn, in which the surrounding area is closely involved. Through an area-based process, the parties are mapping out the options for connecting flood risk management with the improvement of spatial quality, thus creating opportunities for nature, recreational facilities, cultural history, the economy, and mobility. In the IJsselpoort River Climate Adaptation Park project, the parties are also looking for a smart adaptive implementation strategy in which river widening, dyke improvement, nature development, recreational functions, navigation channel improvement, and preservation of economic activity are optimally substantiated.

implementation strategy

See report Naar een adaptieve uitvoeringsstrategie IJsseldijken [Towards an adaptive implementation strategy for the IJssel dykes].


The stakeholders are closely involved in the MIRT and HWBP explorations. For example, private citizens, designers, and urban developers are weighing in on dyke improvements along the Waal, e.g., in the residents working groups for the Gorinchem-Waardenburg exploration. Groups of residents are involved in the improvement of the Grebbe dyke (design and opportunities for spatial quality) and the IJssel dyke between Olst and Zwolle. The participation of committed residents, governments, businesses, and NGOs in the Varik-Heesselt/Tiel-Waardenburg exploration has generated eighteen potential solution strategies. In a transparent process, this number has been reduced to several promising solution strategies. After the summer of 2017, an intensive participation process will be launched for the IJsselpoort River Climate Adaptation Park project, to gather wishes for this park among residents and users.

With effect from October 2015, NGOs have been represented by two participants in the Rhine Administrative Platform: the chair of the Waal-Merwedes Reflection Group (who also sits on the Waal-Merwedes Administrative Platform) and a representative of the Rijn-Oost Regional Consultation Committee (who also sits on the IJssel steering group). The Rhine Delta Programme organises bi-monthly broad-based information meetings on the current progress of the preferential strategy, projects, and studies, for the benefit of both government bodies and the NGOs in the region. Every two years, a major regional conference is organised (the Rivers Day) to keep the broad Rhine community up to date.

Implementation of freshwater supply strategy (area around the major rivers freshwater supply region)

The preferential strategy for the freshwater supply in the area around the major rivers involves the optimisation of the water supply to the region and the promotion of economical water consumption, by way of Smart Water Management and adjustments to the main inlets.

The preferential strategy for the freshwater supply in the area around the major rivers

See DP2015, preferential strategy for freshwater supply to the area around the major rivers in DP2015.

On schedule

The implementation of the preferential strategy for the freshwater supply in the area around the major rivers is on schedule. The preferential strategy is substantiated with model-based calculations of the demand for water from the main water system, the exploration of water availability measures, and adjustments to the main inlets. 

The Rivierenland district water board is drawing up supply models to determine the efficiency of the water consumption. The study pertaining to the first sub-area was completed in 2016. This study shows that the water that is let in is used efficiently. Supply models for two sub-areas will be completed in 2017. The study, that is intended to yield supply models for all ten sub-areas by 2021, is thus proceeding as planned.

In 2016, the water availability pilot was completed under the Kop van de Betuwe area development. Temporary adaptive weir management, irrigation prior to drought, and extraction from deep pools seem promising measures. The first two require additional water from the main water system immediately before a dry spell.

Together with Deltares and Rijkswaterstaat, the Rivierenland district water board has examined how regional freshwater supply measures impact water availability in the main water system. The study shows that most regional measures have a quite local and temporary effect, and hardly, if at all, reduce the demand on the main water system. Furthermore, choices made regarding points of departure for the irrigation data turn out to have a clear impact on the outcomes of the model. Irrigation is a significant factor in the demand for water on the (main) water system, as is spraying in fruit orchards in order to prevent crops from being scorched. The current models do not reflect an accurate picture. In order to standardise model input with respect to irrigation at the national level, Rijkswaterstaat aims to use derivatives to draw up new calculations. In addition, flushing flows, pumping and inlet capacities, and structural water levels may be adjusted when concrete and complete relevant data is provided. A final effort concerns the exploration of autonomous linked capacity expansion.

In the period ahead, the freshwater supply region will recalculate regional water demand once data is available on water availability through the main water system. 

In 2016, Rijkswaterstaat completed a study into the benefit and necessity of supplying Waal water to the Meuse at low water levels. During dry spells, Meuse discharge volumes can fall considerably, which hampers maintenance of the water level in the canalised sections and water supply to the Land van Meuse en Waal. In addition, low water levels compromise water quality in the Meuse, as a result of which it may be necessary temporarily to suspend the intake of water for the production of drinking water. The conclusion is that a water supply from the Waal to the Meuse in dry spells can be effective in improving the quality of Meuse water for the provision of drinking water, and can reduce damage for agriculture and shipping. There is insufficient reason for a structural measure. However, it would be useful to elaborate the transfer of water from the Waal to the Meuse as an emergency measure. A follow-up study to this effect was launched in 2017.

At the end of 2016, an inland navigation vessel collided with the Grave weir. The incident has made clear what the consequences will be of a sudden drop in water levels in the Sambeek-Grave section and the Maas-Waal canal. Similar effects may occur if, in the future, Meuse discharge volumes will drop to an extremely low level. In 2028, Rijkswaterstaat will replace the Grave weir under the replacement tasking for hydraulic structures.

On track

There is currently no reason for adjusting the course of the preferential strategy for the freshwater supply to the area around the major rivers.

Integrated approach

The Kop van de Betuwe area development combines the supply of freshwater with the generation of thermal energy from surface water (for neighbourhoods that are not on the natural gas grid) and multi-layer flood risk management (spatial planning, evacuation routes). A pilot involving the combination of heat-cold generation from surface water and freshwater supply, at a supply pumping station in the densely built-up district of Arnhem-Zuid, appears to hold promise for upscaling. Studies presented at the National Climate Summit in 2016 show that heat generated from water can meet approx. 12% of the national heat requirements in the Netherlands. 

The innovation scheme for consumers in the area south of the major rivers is linked to the Delta Plan on Agricultural Water Management. The parties are thus fostering an integrated approach to water and agricultural issues. 


In the area south of the major rivers the Rivierenland district water board, the Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organization ZLTO, and a group of pioneering farmers and market gardeners have joined forces. In 2017, the district water board will open up an innovation scheme. Freshwater consumers may apply to this scheme if they want to invest in (innovative) water-saving measures. 

In the Kop van de Betuwe freshwater supply pilot, the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture LTO Noord has involved a representative group of farmers and growers. The parties have exchanged information and thus gained clarity regarding water requirements. This forms part of step 1: transparency. Water awareness can be regarded as sufficient to good. The district water board is passing on the experience to the learning environment of the Freshwater Supply core team. 

Implementation of spatial adaptation strategy

The climate policy pursued by the municipality of Nijmegen is aimed at being climate-proof by 2050. This policy is focused on mitigation of and adaptation to four climate effects: flood threat from the rivers Waal and Maas, severe precipitation and storms, heat stress (especially during the night), and drought (in greenery and nature). Nijmegen has already embarked on the disconnection of downpipes and is now also engaged in other measures, such as the development of green-blue structures in the city. On 9 March 2017, the National Water and Climate Knowledge and Innovation Programme (Climate-proof City focus area) visited Nijmegen to exchange knowledge and practical experience. 

In collaboration with the province, municipalities, Security Region, and utility companies, the Rivierenland district water board is examining how they can contribute to spatial adaptation. The study focuses, inter alia, on measures to reduce the impact of a flood in the eastern part of the Betuwe between Arnhem and Nijmegen, with attention for water resilience and reducing the risk of fatalities. The study also explores the water requirements and water availability in the area, and measures to expand water availability. Finally, the study maps out how energy can be generated from surface water to be used for residential heating. The project will be completed in 2017.

Together with the other governments, the municipality of Zwolle is working on a unique combination of room for the river, dyke improvement, and multi-layer flood risk management. Key elements are collaboration with local stakeholders and innovation. The efforts also address adaptation issues extending to the very capillaries of the city. The Climate-active City network (KAS-IJVD) is looking for solutions to vulnerable locations in the city and private value creation that fosters climate-proofing. In early 2017, Zwolle adopted a climate plan featuring climate adaptation goals and courses of action for the years ahead.

The Expeditie Hemels Water, van het dak in de ...[water from heaven expedition, from the roof top into the.. ] project, is an impact project carried out under the Spatial Adaptation Incentive Programme (third round of impact projects). Two primary schools in Zutphen are disconnecting their downpipes and greening their schoolyards. Pupils weigh in on the design of solutions to the disconnection, more efficient use, and drainage of rainwater. The point of departure is a positive attitude: what can we do with all that free water? The project provides educational programmes to involve children and their parents in the topic. The primary schools also serve as a showcase for drawing attention to opportunities for disconnecting downpipes among parents and residents in the vicinity. The approach of reaching parents through their children to encourage them to take climate-adaptive measures appears to be effective. 

  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