High-lying Areas with Sandy Soils

The national Delta Programme works on the specific agendas for the high-lying areas with sandy soils, particularly with regard to the quantity of fresh water. A preferred strategy has been drawn up for this area. 

High-lying areas with sandy soils are found in several places in the Netherlands: in Drenthe, Overijssel, Gelderland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant and Limburg. Examples are the Hondsrug, the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the Veluwe, the Achterhoek and Twente, the Brabantse Wal and the Limburgse Maasduinen. These areas are generally intersected by brook valleys. They consist of a mosaic of arable farmland, grasslands and valuable wet and dry nature areas.  

They account for about half of the Dutch land surface and they are home to 45 percent of the population They also account for 40 percent of the jobs in the Netherlands, with agriculture and industry as major employers. They are home to 70 percent of the National Parks, 55 percent of the Natura 2000 sites and 50 percent of the National Landscapes. 


A large proportion of the high-lying areas with sandy soils receive only limited amounts of fresh water from rivers, or none at all. They are largely dependent on rainwater. Drinking water companies and the food industry, other industries and farmers use deep and shallow groundwater for their operational activities and for irrigation.   

The high-lying areas with sandy soils have had problems with water shortages and aridification for decades. As a result of climate change, those problems will continue to increase, groundwater levels will fall, brook valleys will dry up periodically, and water quality will deteriorate. An increase in water demand will amplify those effects. Agriculture, urban areas and nature are particularly affected.  

Preferred strategy for High-Lying Areas with Sandy Soils

As part of the national Delta Programme, a preferred strategy has been drawn up for these areas. The strategy is intended to safeguard the availability of fresh water. The ambition is to complete measures in 20 percent of this area by 2027 and throughout the area by 2050 to retain water longer and reduce the demand for water. Climate change means that periods without precipitation are becoming longer and longer and, when it rains, that precipitation consists of short, intense, showers. For the high-lying areas with sandy soils, this means that precipitation must be retained longer in the area so that enough water is available to get through long dry periods. New KNMI climate scenarios will become available in late 2023 and they may lead to an intensification of the challenge. The measures that are applicable depend on the type of area. It is also important to make the areas more resilient to the effects of climate change. The framework for this preferred strategy consists of the Delta Decisions for Fresh water and Spatial adaptation.The preferred strategy is put into practice as a series of measures.

Go on to: