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.

(On-screen title: Water. Our daily work.) VOICE-OVER: Water, source of life. Of prosperity. Of pleasure. Of wet hair and fresh determination. We rely on it. (A toilet flushes.) Every single day. As if it's never been any other way. (Footage of flooding.) AN OMINOUS SOUND Because we don't usually stop to think about the destructive force of water. Whether we live above sea level or metres below it, we go on our way. Past dykes, dunes, locks and flood defences. Even when there's a storm. Even now that sea levels are slowly but surely rising. (A child drinks water.) We drink, irrigate, put out fires and refrigerate. Sail for fun or for a living. Including when the river level drops and the call for water grows. (Spring has never been this dry before. Since the middle of March, hardly any rain has fallen.) We eat fresh oranges and drive in the latest cars, which have found their way to us across busy seas and rivers. (Birds fly over a body of water.) We enjoy nature, clean water, animals and plants. (Someone takes a lid off a pan.) We live on water and we live with water. Completely normal for most people in the Netherlands. But for Rijkswaterstaat, daily work. We look ahead. Looking for answers to tomorrow's problems, today. To keep the Netherlands safe, liveable and accessible. (The Dutch coat of arms, next to: Rijkswaterstaat. Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The screen turns yellow and white. On-screen text: More information? www.rijkswaterstaat.nl/en. A production by Rijkswaterstaat. Copyright 2021.)

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

We closely monitor water levels. Based on models and weather forecasts, we prepare our own forecasts to predict water levels and water discharge volumes.

Main waterway network

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.