Dutch: Living With (More) Water

Living With (More) Water

Water manager in Flevoland

Today, there are many challenges for the local water authorities of Flevoland. Climate change will mean more water, including more extreme rainfall events.

The land is sinking due to ripening of clay and oxidation of peat. We need to accept that there are limits concerning drainage and land use. We need to adapt and live with the water instead of continuing to fight it!

Sustainable soil management is a solution for managing greater rainfall by keeping it local and increasing the moisture absorption. Fertile and productive soil goes hand-in-hand with sustainable water management.

Water is a non-negotiable value, not an enemy. We need to take it into account in all our decisions. It adds a priceless value to our environmental quality. Climate change adaptation offers great opportunities in combination with nature in rural and urban areas. One example is water buffers for drought periods and heat stress events.

© Province of Flevoland | Discussions on a Rising Sea Level
too much water - illustration by Felix Guerain

Flevoland, The sinking land

Flevoland farmer

Our land is already below sea level, but it continues to sink.

The old peat soil shrinks due to the oxygen it is now exposed to. We need to grow our crops, and our crops need unsaturated soil. Therefore, the water level helps the farmers, but also causes the soil to continue to subside where there is peat. We can’t keep this up forever in all places. Eventually, some places will have to be treated or used in another way. This also occurs in urban areas; streets and gardens have to be raised periodically. If we do nothing, the water retaliates, but this time from within.

But Drinking Water is Filled Up!

Water manager in Flevoland

On the positive side, large drinking water reserves are continuously replenished when high quality groundwater from the Veluwe hills flows to the lowest point in the region, Flevoland.

Rainwater infiltrates in the Veluwe, a nature reserve, and along its trajectory is purified by all kinds of organic soil processes. It takes a couple of centuries to reach us, and by that time it is clean. We only have to pump it up and distribute it to our people. However, the number of inhabitants is growing rapidly, doubling in the near future, and they all need access to drinking water. Fortunately, the reserves are vast. We’ll manage, but we need to keep monitoring the demand, protecting our resources, and looking for new ones too. We expect there will be enough.

Groundwater - illustration by Felix Guerain
Expected Increase of Drinking Water Demand 2017-2050, The Netherlands

Is It Safe to Drink This Water?

Water manager

Water quality is always on our minds.

We depend so much on the water, that we need keep it clean, both the surface water and the groundwater. Think of the farmers here, our children swimming during summer, the tourists! It is very important to keep it all clean. The water board and the Provincial government are working closely together, creating nature-friendly shores and fish-friendly sluices. We continue to meet the goals set by the European Water Framework.

© Felix Guerain | Healthy Waters

Why Do I Receive So Many Water Bills?

A resident

I receive three different bills: for my drinking water, for the sewage system and for the cleaning of my wastewater.

Can this chain be simplified? Can it be more effective? For example, do I have to flush my toilet with drinking water? Or can we apply new techniques? How much money would I save? Can certain materials be regained from wastewater? A lot of questions... It is a good thing that the common governments in Flevoland have attention for innovation in the waterchain.

© Felix Guerain | Clean Water

When Dikes Meet Bikes

A mountain biker

Wow! This is the coolest track I have been on!

What a good idea from the waterboard and the province, to combine a dike with another use, in this case, a mountain bike trail. Traditional dikes in Flevoland are mainly functional and above all, very strong! This requires continuous attention and periodical strengthening. I feel very safe. In the new approach, the dike is still safe, but they are also looking for complementary opportunities.

© Felix Guerain | Working on the Dike