Cooperation with neighbouring countries on water

Our waterways must be well connected to the waterway networks in Germany, Belgium and France, as well as with the United Kingdom via the North Sea.

We work together with government agencies similar to Rijkswaterstaat to deliver the best possible service to our stakeholders. We do this by sharing our knowledge and expertise and learning from each other.

Environment Agency (England)

Since 2016, the Environment Agency (EA) and Rijkswaterstaat have been working together on many areas of common interest under the umbrella of a joint Memory of Understanding (MOU). The joint MOU was triggered, among other things, by the 2014 Somerset floods, where Dutch inspectors were called in to provide a second opinion.

In fact, Rijkswaterstaat and the EA have a much longer history together. The ‘Kring van zeewerende ingenieurs’ was established following the devastating impact of the North Sea Flood of 1953, both in the Netherlands and England. About 15 years ago, the i-Storm network of storm surge barrier operators was set up with strong support from both EA and Rijkswaterstaat.

Cooperation themes include integrated water resource management, dyke and dam safety, and engineering with nature. In addition, the cooperation also covers topics such as asset management and structural health monitoring, as well as incident learning exchange, knowledge and innovation management, sustainability (Environment Agency sets net zero emissions aim) and various topics related to R&D.

Incident Learning Partnership

This is a new initiative to provide Rijkswaterstaat and our colleagues at the Dutch water authorities with experience of EA incident response and to share and develop incident best practices. In total, there have been 5 physical exchanges and one virtual, based on an incident observation protocol.

The initial exchange, a drought workshop held in the Netherlands in March 2019, facilitated a knowledge-sharing platform for staff from EA, Rijkswaterstaat and the Dutch Water Authorities. It provided valuable insights derived from the experiences of the 2018 drought.

Following this, Dutch teams were invited by the EA to observe flood risk management and recovery activities in Wainfleet in June 2019, Bristol Horizon House in November 2019, Leeds in November 2019 and Lincolnshire in December 2019.

During the incident at Whaley Bridge Dam, Dutch colleagues carried out a parallel risk assessment. They shared this with EA colleagues to check whether the Dutch would have handled this incident in a similar way.

To enable further knowledge building and sharing for similar incidents, we also identified topics for future cooperation. These include reservoir management during droughts, Lidar as a risk assessment tool and exchange of dyke inspectors.

Federal Institute of Hydrology (Germany)

An efficient transport system is essential for a healthy economy in Germany. Waterways are important transport routes and in many cases offer a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to road, rail and air transport, or are part of transport chains. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) defines transport policy and sets the legal framework for the use and management of Germany's waterways.

The German Federal Institute of Hydrology (Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde – BfG) is a supreme federal agency within the BMVI’s portfolio. As such, it is the federal government’s scientific institution for research, assessment and advice in the fields of hydrology, water use, water quality, water protection and ecology.

It advises the federal ministries and their subordinate bodies on fundamental and specific issues, in particular the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) in accordance with Section 45 (3) of the Federal Waterways Act. This is done in connection with the planning, development and new construction of waterways, including their operation and maintenance.

WSV is responsible for the development and maintenance of waterways in accordance with the laws and regulations. Rijkswaterstaat cooperates with the BfG on the basis of a MOU.

Department of Mobility and Public Works (Flanders)

The Department of Mobility and Public Works (MOW) in Flanders is in charge of policymaking with regard to mobility and road safety, as well as investment, management and use of the transport and port infrastructure in Flanders.

MOW, together with 2 internally independent agencies, the Agency for Roads and Traffic and the Agency for Maritime Services and Coast, form the Flemish Ministry of Mobility and Public Works.

Together with the externally privatised agencies De Lijn, De Scheepvaart and Waterwegen en Zeekanaal, this Flemish Ministry of Mobility and Public Works in turn forms the Policy Division Mobility and Public Works.

Rijkswaterstaat is working with MOW on the construction of the Gent-Terneuzen sea lock , as well as a living lab in the Hedwige and Prosper polder on flood emergency management.

Structure policy area Mobility and Public Works

  • Flemish Ministry for Mobility and Public Works
  • Department of Mobility and Public Works
  • Roads and Traffic Agency
  • Maritime and Coastal Services
  • Flemish Transport Company De Lijn
  • De Scheepvaart (from 10 February 2017: ‘De Vlaamse Waterweg nv’)
  • Waterways and Sea Canal Agency (from 1 January 2018: ‘De Vlaamse Waterweg nv’)
  • Antwerp Airport Development Company
  • Ostend - Bruges Airport Development Company

The Department of Mobility and Public Works

The Department of Mobility and Public Works supports the Minister in the implementation of policy in the areas of mobility and road safety, as well as investment, management and operation of transport and port infrastructure. This includes:

  • The preparation of advice, policy proposals and regulations
  • The dissemination of information
  • Policy research, trend monitoring and context analysis
  • Monitoring European and international policies and regulations
  • Monitoring and evaluating policy impact
  • Policy information and communication

The department also fulfils the role of policy coordinator for the budget policy area, responding to parliamentary questions and Cabinet papers, and preparing policy papers and ministerial policy letters.

Finally, it performs administrative and technical support functions, such as:

  • Human resources, facility management, ICT, accounting, budget and legal matters, expertise and advice on concrete and steel structures, soil testing, dynamic traffic management, hydrological research, etcetera.
  • The management and operation of the maritime access roads to the Flemish sea ports, assignments to internal or external privatised agencies.