Measures for Rhine Estuary/Drecht Towns

The national Delta Programme sets out measures and projects specifically for the Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns region. Many initiatives have been completed or are actually in progress; that will continue to be the case in the years ahead.

The measures and projects in the Rhine Estuary/Drecht Towns region have been set out in detail in the Delta Plans for  Flood Risk ManagementFreshwater Supply and Spatial Adaptation. In addition, the Rhine Estuary/Drecht Towns have their own implementation agenda for the period 2020-2026.

Milestones achieved over 2015-2021

Considerable progress has been made in the Rhine Estuary/Drecht Towns region over the past six years. Milestones include:

  • The Kinderdijk-Schoonhovenseveer dike upgrade was completed in 2018. The implementation of the upgrade took a range of synergy opportunities into consideration. An example is the Climate Dike in Streefkerk; this dike is so high and strong that housing development is possible. 
  • The Port of Rotterdam Authority, working with government authorities and business, developed adaptation strategies for several parts of the port area that are located outside the dikes.
  • In 2019, the municipal authority of Dordrecht and the Zuid-Holland Zuid Safety Region published a manual for setting up flood shelter locations in existing or new buildings.
  • Deltares published a study in 2019: ‘The Impact of High Scenarios for Sea Level Rise’. The study provides a picture of the effects of sea level rise of up to 2-3 metres on dikes and unprotected areas outside the dikes, port accessibility and a host of other effects.
  • Resilience to freshwater shortages has been increased, in part as a result of the completion of the innovative Freshwater Factory pilot project.
  • The municipal authority of Dordrecht and the Internationale Architectuur Biënnale Rotterdam (IABR) investigated the possibility of combining new housing on the Staart area, which is located outside the dikes, with a different layout of the area. The aim was to make it possible for the residents of Dordrecht to take shelter here in the event of flooding or possible flooding.
  • The Hollandse Delta water authority developed a tool in 2021 to make a balanced assessment of new investments in a context of long-term climate risks. 
  • In 2021, almost all the safety regions in the area produced impact analyses and evacuation strategies.

Plans for 2022-2026

A number of projects and measures are on the implementation agenda for the coming years. A few examples:

  • The Hoogheemraadschap van Schieland en de Krimpenerwaard water authority and Rijkswaterstaat are investing jointly in making the Hollandsche IJssel barrier more reliable. This investment means that less drastic dike upgrades will be needed on the river.
  • Rijkswaterstaat is initiating a follow-up study looking at the functional lifespan of the Maeslant barrier.
  • Work will start on the elaboration of the ‘Strategic Adaptation Agenda for Areas outside the Dikes’, for example on the Maasvlakte and in the port area and residential locations outside the dikes in Rotterdam and Dordrecht.
  • A project team is developing adaptation strategies for flood risk management in the urban areas in Rotterdam. Spatial development plans are being drawn up, as well as a long-term adaptation strategy for each area. 
  • In 2022, the evacuation strategies established by the safety regions will be elaborated on a supra-regional basis. The effects of possible or actual floods do not stop at the borders of a safety region.


All the actors in the region are committed to coordinating work on the three agendas in the national Delta Programme – flood risk management, adequate fresh water, and climate-resilient and water-robust spatial planning – and, where possible, linking them to climate mitigation, the circular economy and other transitions. The Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns Delta Programme is examining how this coordination effort can be strengthened in the future.

Knowledge and research

The Knowledge Agenda of the Delta Programme includes the research in the Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns area in the period 2021-2026. The main knowledge questions relate to:

  • The impact of sea level rise on flood risk management and salinisation in this region.
  • The extent to which the current system can cope with the impact of sea level rise.
  • Which options there are in the long term for making the region water-robust.  

The organisation of the Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns Delta Programme is therefore actively involved in the national Sea Level Rise Knowledge Programme..