The climate is changing and new statutory standards have been introduced for dykes. Both these developments impact the Meuse: we must continue to work on flood risk management. The parties along the river Meuse have joined forces and come up with a joint Regional Proposal for the River Meuse. In this proposal, they have opted for a combination of river widening and short-term dyke improvement. The Minister has accepted the proposal and appropriated a sum of 100 million euros to its implementation.
Urgent measures first
The measures aimed at keeping the Meuse region safe and beautiful, from Eijsden to Geertruidenberg, are being substantiated. As a collaborative, the Meuse partners have together determined where flood risk management is in urgent need of improvement. Spatial and economic developments in the area are also factored in.
What short-term measures are involved?
The Regional Proposal for the Meuse encompasses eight projects for which explorations have commenced. In concrete terms, the projects concern sections near Thorn, Venlo, Baarlo, Arcen, Well, Oeffelt, and between Ravenstein and Lith. The plans can now be elaborated in more detail, in combination with the required dyke improvements scheduled under the Flood Protection Programme. The collaborating parties have set aside a total of 400 million euros, of which the central government is providing 100 million euros. The work must be completed before 2030.
For another four projects, studies will continue. These involve the Lob van Gennep storage area, Maastricht, the Ravenstein waterfront, and the Den Bosch Meuse embankment park. The studies examine the feasibility (in spatial and economic terms), affordability, and public support of the projects.
New standards call for additional measures
Up until now, the flood defence systems in the Meuse valley enjoyed a unique status, that was found nowhere else in the Netherlands: during extremely high water-levels, these flood defences were intended to overtop, in order to prevent the water-levels along the Dyked River Meuse from rising even further. The new flood protection standards that came into force on 1 January 2017 have put an end to this exceptional position for the Meuse valley flood defences. To achieve this, many sections of the existing overtopping dykes need to be reinforced and/or raised. Without additional measures, water levels in the Meuse will rise. For that reason, implementation of the project is conditional on compensatory measures being taken aimed at accommodating the Meuse water. This can be achieved by relocating dykes (constructing a dyke at a greater distance from the river) and providing retention areas in the Meuse valley (areas that can temporarily accommodate excess water from the Meuse).
Long-term ambition for the Meuse
The Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group is also working on a long-term strategy. In the first half of 2018, the central government and the region will together formulate a feasible and widely supported river widening ambition in relation to dyke improvement for the entire Meuse (Meuse valley and the dyked river Meuse). This ambition will constitute the point of departure for the Meuse Adaptive Implementation Strategy up to and including 2050.
Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group
The Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group (SDM) is composed of representatives from:
- the provinces (Noord-Brabant, Limburg, and Gelderland),
- the district water boards (Brabantse Delta, Aa en Maas, Rivierenland, Limburg),
the Meuse municipalities (Maastricht, Roermond, Venlo, Oss, West Maas en Waal, and ‘s-Hertogenbosch),
- Rijkswaterstaat Southern Netherlands,
- the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment,
- and the Chair of the Meuse Consultative Group.
The Steering Group is supported by a coordinating programme team. The Meuse Consultative Group liaises with NGOs.
Freshwater Supply preferential strategy
Climate change may bring about longer periods of extremely low water levels in the rivers. The Freshwater Supply preferential strategy focuses on “smart water management” in order to better guide and use river water. The region will ensure that the inlet points to smaller bodies of water will allow in sufficient water even if the water level in the rivers is low. In the mid-term, greater water shortages may occur in the area around the southern major rivers. In that case, we have the option of transporting water from the Waal to the Meuse, for example via the Maas-Waal canal. In the years ahead, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment will investigate whether or not such an emergency measure is advisable.
Various pilots are underway. For example, the area south of the major rivers is exploring the application of efficient irrigation techniques to crops, while the Rivierenland district water board has initiated a study into the sustainable use of shallow groundwater.
Delta Programme 2018
To view the progress made with respect to the Meuse Region, click here: Delta Programme 2018.