Water management

Water management

As a low-lying country, the Netherlands is vulnerable to flooding. More than a quarter of the country is below sea level and almost one third is at risk of flooding from rivers. As sea levels rise and soil levels fall, the risks are constantly growing. We are also increasingly facing extreme weather conditions.

In certain periods, the Netherlands is even extra vulnerable to high water levels. In the winter and spring, the rivers Rhine and Meuse have to discharge more rainwater and meltwater than in other seasons. There are also more storms in these seasons than in the rest of the year.

A series of measures

Rijkswaterstaat undertakes a series of measures to protect the Dutch people against flooding. These measures range from the Delta Works to the Room for the River programme. Other important tasks of Rijkswaterstaat include managing water shortages during periods of drought and monitoring and improving water quality.

Crisis and water management

Rijkswaterstaat closely monitors water levels in the Netherlands. Based on models and weather forecasts, we prepare our own forecasts to predict water levels and water discharge volumes. In this way, we avoid unpleasant surprises, and as far as possible we are able to prevent crises occurring.

Main waterway network

In terms of the economy, goods transport by water is hugely important and that importance is growing constantly. Our waterways are increasingly used for recreational purposes. We are working actively to improve shipping traffic management and to manage and further develop the Dutch waterways network.


Rijkswaterstaat not only monitors the quality and quantity of our water but also keeps a close eye on (the height of) riverbeds and the seabed. This is essential if we are to continue guaranteeing safety, and the availability of clean drinking water and usable information.