Cooperating with Nature, Making Room for the River
By Tony Freemantle, the Houston Chronicle
Dec. 22, 2017
The philosophy that has defined water management in the Netherlands for the last 30 years or so is markedly different from the “brute force” protection paradigm that ruled after the 1953 flood. This softer approach is reflected in the language that is now used when the Dutch talk about flood protection — spatial planning, resiliency, Building with Nature, Room for the River, Living With Water.
In 1993 and 1995, the threat of river flooding forced the mandatory evacuation of 250,000 residents. This, and the collective acceptance that global climate change will mean increased river flows and an ongoing threat in the future, prompted the government to embark on a program dubbed Room for the River, a 20-year project that would cost $2.73 billion.
“With Room for the River, I think the interesting thing is that after, say, 800 years of only strengthening and hiking dikes as the solution, we said maybe it’s wiser to cooperate with nature,” said Hans Brouwer, a senior rivers expert with the Room for the River program.
See also our own reporting on Room for the River.