River Meuse

The provinces, municipalities, district water boards, Rijkswaterstaat, and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management are jointly faced with the challenge of securing both short-term and long-term flood protection along the River Meuse. A complex and challenging task.

Rivier de Maas bij Alem

Spatial Perspective for the Meuse

In 2018, the Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group set down the Spatial Perspective for the Meuse, which visualises the main spatial and economic taskings along the River Meuse up until 2050. The Perspective provides insight into the feasibility of flood protection measures.

Four perspectives

The Spatial Perspective for the Meuse focuses on four sub-areas: the Southern Meuse Valley, the Northern Meuse Valley, the Meandering Meuse, and the Bergsche Maas corridor. For each of these sub-areas, a perspective for 2050 has been developed, seeking synergy between the characteristics and opportunities involved in six key domains: leisure activities, the economy, nature, cultural history, villages and cities, DNA.

Meuse Adaptive Implementation Strategy

In the summer of 2019, a set of measures was compiled involving river widening and dyke improvement along the entire River Meuse: the Meuse Adaptive Implementation Strategy. Key elements of this Strategy are the sets of potential river widening measures aimed at reducing the height requirements for dyke improvements, and at enhancing natural values, landscape values, and economic functions.

Story of the Meuse

In the spring of 2019, river experts formulated the Story of the River Meuse. This report deals with the development of the River Meuse, the disrupted balance, the taskings, and the challenges. It contributes to the societal discussion regarding the course to be taken in the planning of the Meuse. The report alerts and agendises; it does not have any policy-related, legal, or financial status.

Urgent measures in progress

In 2016, the national and regional governments set down agreements regarding a first round of urgent measures aimed at improving flood protection along the River Meuse. In these areas, the required flood protection is achieved through a combination of river widening, dyke improvement, and area development. The collaborating parties have allocated a total sum of 400 million euros to the projects, which are scheduled to be completed by 2028.

MIRT Elaborations:

  • Alphen Veerweg bridge extension
    The Meuse floodplains near the village of Alphen are home to the “On the Meuse” sand extraction project. Additional expansion of the flood channel and the construction of an extended bridge across this channel will enable a relatively simple additional water level reduction. Read more…  

MIRT Explorations:

  • Meandering Meuse (formerly Ravenstein-Lith)
    This combined MIRT/Flood Protection Programme exploration commenced in 2017. The aim is to combine river widening and dyke improvement with the creation of more room for nature, leisure activities, and commercial shipping. The decision on the Preferential Alternative is envisaged for early 2020, as is the signing of the associated administrative agreement.
  • More room for the Meuse – Oeffelt bottleneck
    This exploration is aimed at removing the bottleneck near the bridge over the Meuse between Oeffelt and Gennep. Two measures on the Brabant side offer good prospects: two openings in the bridge land abutment and floodplain excavation. The plan elaboration is scheduled to commence in the autumn of 2019.
  • Northern Meuse Valley system measures
    At 16 locations in the Northern Meuse Valley, the Limburg district water board has joined forces with the central, provincial, and municipal authorities to strengthen the dykes. In addition to improving and raising the dykes, the parties are exploring options for dyke relocation at five locations in order to give the Meuse more room. Concurrently, they are capitalising on opportunities for enhancing the appeal of the Meuse Valley.
  • Lob van Gennep
    Research has shown that solution strategies involving retention will foster water storage, flood protection, and spatial quality, both in the Lob van Gennep area and downstream. Opportunities will open up in the area for, inter alia, leisure activities and tourism. The protection deficit will decrease at the vulnerable dyke sections on the Gelderland and Brabant side. Opportunities will also open up for reinforcement of both wet and dry nature, and for a connection with the Maasheggen nature reserve.

MIRT Studies: 

  • Alem river widening
    The area around the village of Alem is open to several types of river widening measures, which – provided they are designed in a properly interconnected manner – can produce a significant water level reducing effect: in the vicinity of Alem, but especially upstream, which adds to the local and regional significance of the project.
  • Southern Meuse Valley
    Flood protection is a major challenge for the city of Maastricht. Raising the existing dykes in urban areas by some 1.5 metres is undesirable. The study focuses on river widening in combination with urban developments in order to preserve and enhance the identity of the city.  Read more…

Organisation and contact

The Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group is composed of representatives from the provinces involved, district water boards, the Meuse municipalities, Rijkswaterstaat Southern Netherlands, and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The Steering Group is supported by a coordinating programme team. The Meuse Consultative Group liaises with NGOs. Under the Meuse Delta Programme, the provinces are elaborating a cohesive set of measures, in collaboration with all the regional partners. The measures are being developed in the Meuse Valley and Dyked River Meuse regional processes.

Potential amendment of the Preferential Strategy

The Preferential Strategy for the Rivers (2014) was mainly underpinned by the flood risk management tasking. It involved a powerful interaction between dyke improvement and river widening. It is important to gain a more concrete picture of the actual scope of essential dyke improvements and of how river widening could reduce the dyke tasking, also because the new standards have added to the tasking. Consideration will be given to the potential impact of river widening on other taskings (such as sediment replenishment, river valley vegetation, and dyke improvements in floodplains to compensate for higher water levels; water retention during periods of drought; and enhancing landscape quality). The Preferential Strategy for the Meuse will be reviewed within the context of the policy choices to be prepared in the purview of Integrated River Management. The policy choices will be assessed with respect to both high water and low water situations, and in terms of all the river functions.

Potential amendments of the Preferential Strategy for the Meuse are:

  1. formulating goals with respect to riverbed level, the extent of river widening, and the resulting reduction in water level;
  2. for the Limburg section of the Meuse: preserving room in the riverbed, in accordance with the policy memorandum to the House of Representatives;
  3. in addition to goals, identifying measures and scheduling the next round;
    Including preconditions for goal attainment:
    a. transparent financial framework;
    b. monitoring the impact of measures on, inter alia, water level reduction and riverbed morphology;
  4. embedding goals and measures in policy.

Integrated River Management

Under the Integrated River Management programme, the central government and the regional (water) partners are collaborating on a safe, functional, and attractive Meuse and Rhine area, which is ready for the future.

Climate change is making itself felt and its impact necessitates quick and efficient action. The multitude of taskings and the limited scope for development call for an overall picture and adaptive collaboration. Under the Integrated River Management programme, our current approach – featuring a powerful interaction of dyke improvement and river widening – will expand to the essential comprehensive, area-specific strategy.

Within the programme, we are working in an interconnected and (cost) efficient manner. We are developing individual perspectives for each river and river tributary, and we are addressing taskings relating to flood risk management, water quality, nature development, economic development, the freshwater supply, and smooth and safe shipping routes.

Delta Programme 2020

Read about the progress made in the Meuse area in Delta Programme 2020.