#Henri Cormont Informal discussion with a farmer in the Noordwaard polder
Room for the River
Making room for innovation Room for the River is accelerating the pace of work by encouraging innovation. This is evidenced in the cooperative formula: national and regional authorities work together intensively on the dual objectives of flood protection and spatial planning quality. Creating wider rivers rather than making higher dykes is the order of the day – plus new techniques (also for tendering).
‘Residents and business communities are involved right from the start’ Cooperation National and regional in tandem Administrative innovation is evidenced by the way the national and regional authorities work together. This enhances planning quality while broadening support and reducing the risk of delays. • National government defines the borderline objectives for safety, timing and funding. The regional authorities have maximum scope to conceive and implement plans within these borderline objectives.
• Residents and the business community are involved right from the start. A good example is the participation of citizens in the Overdiepse Polder. The dairy farmers that were forced to relocate due to the depoldering are able to continue their business activities on artificial hills known as ‘terpen’ – a plan they themselves devised. • Room for the River’s dedicated coordination formula is designed to speed up the permit process. This means a one-stop shop for permit applications. Furthermore, parties who grant permits meet regularly to proactively solve any logjams. Gorinchem municipality, which has completed the floodplain excavation project at Avelingen, is of the opinion that this approach has speeded up the schedule by 12 months. • If a given policy is counterproductive – or non-existent – Room for the River’s programme directorate will call for fine-tuning or new development. The compensation scheme for residents of areas outside the ring of dykes has been crafted jointly by the parties involved, especially for this programme.
Dual aims Safety and spatial planning quality go hand in hand As well as making the river region safer Room for the River offers potential to reinforce spatial planning quality. This unique, integrated area-based approach is effective when it comes to generating support within the region and is attracting major interest from abroad.
ROOM FOR THE RIVER | MAKING ROOM FOR INNOVATION
• Reinforcing spatial planning quality means enhancing the user value, perceived value and/or future value of a region. Consider in this regard opportunities for nature, recreation and the business community. • For example, Room for the River has given ‘high water farm’ Natuurderij near Deventer an important incentive. The farmer at this dairy farm business earns one third of her turnover through conservation and water management. Her cows keep grass short in the river forelands, thus keeping the feet of the residents of Deventer dry. The project was nominated for the 2013Water Innovation Prize. • Gorinchem municipality has combined the river foreland excavation with the reconfiguration of the Avelingen commercial park. Benefits gained include more space for business in a waterside setting and a boost for water transport. • Room for the River can also be a catalyst in the total reconfiguration of a region. This is what happened in Nijmegen with the city getting a new look – and a new island in the River Waal bringing fresh potential for recreation. • Arnhem City Council has tackled the widening of the River Rhine in the Stadsblokken-Meinerswijk district in order to develop Europe’s largest urban river foreland park here. The Province of Gelderland is also contributing financially.
‘Grazing cows from high water farm Natuurderij are keeping feet dry in Deventer’ The approach From higher dykes to river widening River widening rather than higher dykes marks a new focus in the Dutch approach to flood protection. • Continued raising of the dykes would increasingly confine the country’s major rivers while increasing chances of flooding. River widening is an innovative, long-term approach to flood protection in the Netherlands. • This country has a long track record spanning centuries of dyke-building and land reclamation. The first sea dykes date from around the year 1000 and the oldest river dykes from around 1200. Giving rivers the room they need rather than confining them calls for a fresh mindset when it comes to flood protection.
New techniques Smarter, faster implementation The Room for the River programme fosters technical innovation. The aim here is to make projects faster, cheaper, more sustainable and/or with minimum nuisance factor in implementation.
‘River widening rather than higher dykes is a new focus’ • Artificial hills (‘terpen’). The earliest coastal dwellers made these as protection from the sea water. Now, more than 2,500 years on, Room for the River is repeating this fine feat in water management. They are being created in the Noordwaard, along the River IJssel and in the Overdiepse Polder: over 40 of them in total. This time to protect against river water. The idea has now been adopted abroad too: New York farmers on ancient Dutch ‘terpen’. • The ‘Wakkere Dijk’ (‘Awake Dyke’) in Munnikenland. This is the Netherlands’ first multifunctional river dyke, combining several functions. Local residents came up with the name, and alludes to the safety that the dyke will be providing (a dyke that never sleeps). It is to become a showpiece dyke, with footpaths and cycle paths, as well as viewpoints overlooking the rich history of Munnikenland. The dyke will also become a highwater refuge for cattle and other animals. • Two longitudinal dams are being constructed in the River Waal. A longitudinal dam is a stone dam running parallel to the river that improves flow. It is anticipated that the longitudinal dams will mean less dredging/ excavation work will be required. A longitudinal dam divides the river into a navigation channel and a bank channel. The benefits of this are that commercial and recreational sailing can be separated and that nature along the banks will be given increased space. This is the first time that longitudinal dams of this scale (7 and 3 km) are being constructed in the Netherlands. • In the case of Pannerden and in the Hondsbroeksche Pleij two innovative control units are being built. During high water, these steer the water into the agreed division between the branches of the river. The sober design is particularly innovative: operating the control units is not complicated, and there are no moving parts that will need maintaining or replacing. • Contractors are involved in projects before plans reach the concrete stage. The lower Rhine project is a good example – with the contractor also taking on part of the planning stage. This was the first time in the Netherlands that the building contractor was involved in a water project at such an early stage. Approaching the market in such a timely fashion has resulted in low contracting costs and huge savings in terms of time: three out of the four projects were completed a year earlier than expected.
Published on Feb 25, 2015