Room for the River – Flooding case study

River flooding is a hot topic following the recent floods resulting from higher than usual rainfall and winter storms across the UK in the past month.  This case study – Room for the River – highlights a ongoing Dutch response to river flooding.


In 2012 Landscape Interface Studio (LIS) supported the communication strategy of the European Regional Development Funded project ‘Waterways Forward’.  Part of LIS’s  involvement was to develop an analytical review of case studies identified by the project partners and to communicate their content by developing a series of ‘good practice’ posters. The posters covered a range of subjects highlighting the multi-functional aspects of Europe’s inland waterways ranging from flooding and climate change, biodiversity and water management including the European Water Framework Directive, leisure and social uses of canals, lakes and rivers plus community engagement, green energy production, water tourism and waterway governance models.  The following information was the subject of the ‘PROTECT – Room for the River’ case study poster.  To view the full poster click here

room for the river


In the Netherlands, ‘Room for the River’ (Planologische Kernbeslissing Ruimte voor de Rivier) is a government design plan intended to address flood protection, master landscaping and the improvement of environmental conditions in the areas surrounding Holland’s rivers. The Room for the River project encompasses four rivers: the Rhine, the Meuse, the Waal, and the Ijssel.  In 1993 and 1995 water levels were extremely high and dikes just managed to hold the river but a quarter of a million people had to be evacuated. Extremely high river discharges will occur more frequently in the future and for this reason it was decided to ensure that the rivers could discharge the forecast volumes of water without flooding. The Government approved the Room for the River Plan in 2007.

This Plan has three objectives:

  • by 2015 the branches of the Rhine will cope with a discharge capacity of 16,000 cubic metres of water per second without flooding
  • the measures implemented to increase safety will also improve the overall environmental quality of the river region
  • the extra room the rivers will need in the coming decades to cope with higher discharges due to the forecast climate changes, will remain permanently available.

A range of measures is being implemented to create more room for the river and reduce high water levels, such as lowering the floodplains, relocating dikes further inland, lowering groynes in the rivers and deepening the summer beds. Strengthening dikes is a measure that will be implemented only when the alternatives are too expensive or inadequate. The programme also aims to boost the economy, ecology and scenic value of the rivers region; investing in its environmental quality will make the region more attractive and appealing, and will offer more room to nature and recreation.

“The Dutch government is taking action to improve safety and to protect the land and people living behind the dikes from floods. The river will be given more room at 39 locations covered by the ‘Room for the River’ Programme. The main objectives of this programme are to complete the flood protection measures by 2015 and to improve the overall environmental quality in the river region.”

Source: Manon van Meer, Dutch Recreational Waterways Foundation (SRN)


Click on to read the full text  Planologische Kernbeslissing Ruimte voor de Rivier


Good to see that social media is a positive way of spreading the word….!  






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