Crisis and water management

Crisis and water management

Rijkswaterstaat not only measures the amount of water flowing through its rivers, but also the water levels along the coastline and in the large lakes. In addition, models and weather forecasts are used to calculate expected water levels and water discharge volumes.

When water levels rise in the rivers, Rijkswaterstaat can take a series of measures to accelerate the rate of water discharge into the sea. For example opening the weirs on the Meuse and Rhine rivers. When storms occur at sea, Rijkswaterstaat can close the storm surge barriers. Rijkswaterstaat manages the major storm surge barriers such as the Oosterschelde barrier in Zeeland and the Maeslant storm surge barrier near Rotterdam. The Room for the River programme was established to ensure the safe discharge of large volumes of river water. At 34 locations across the Netherlands, rivers have been given more room to discharge their water.

When storms occur at sea, Rijkswaterstaat can close the storm surge barriers

On a special website, the Water Management Centre Netherlands (WMCN) publishes daily reports on water levels and warns flood barrier managers. These include the 21 water boards and the Rijkswaterstaat regional services.

Incidents involving pollution

Excess water is not the only source of risk; pollution is another potential problem. Possible causes of pollution are incidents in which ships spill oil or lose other harmful cargo, for example as a result of a collision or running aground. The measures taken depend on the consequences for nature and the user functions of the water, such as recreation, fishery, industry and shipping.

Floating pollution such as oil slicks, algae or vegetable-based fats are trapped using oil-retention screens and cleaned up by special ships or oil vacuum cleaners. This approach is not possible if the pollution is spread by hard winds and high waves. In some cases, the dissolved pollutants are diluted by rinsing with additional water. This calls for the use of sluices, weirs and pumping stations.