Delta Programme Commissioner: Additional funds and action needed for adaptation to climate change
In the next four years, an additional 800 million euros will be needed to eliminate the budget deficit relating to the management and maintenance of hydraulic structures in the Netherlands. Subsequently, the Delta Fund needs a structural sum of 100 million euros per annum in addition. The management and maintenance deficit must not jeopardise new water measures aimed at preparing our low-lying delta for changes in the climate. To quote Delta Programme Commissioner Peter Glas: ‘In light of climate change, we cannot afford to sustain any delay in the implementation of the Delta Programme. On the contrary, we need to expedite our efforts.’
Today, at the State Opening of Parliament (Prinsjesdag), Minister Visser of Infrastructure and Water Management submitted Delta Programme 2022 – subtitled 2022 “Every new development climateproof” to the Senate and the House of Representatives. In his cover letter to the Delta Programme, the Delta Programme Commissioner is urging the government, residents, and businesses to step up their efforts to render the Netherlands resilient against changes in the climate. “The climate appears to be changing at an increasing rate. The flooding in the province of Limburg and the recent IPCC climate report underscore the urgency of additional efforts and of accelerating the implementation of Delta Programme measures.”
Preserving the appeal of the Netherlands
The Delta Programme Commissioner has advised the Office to focus on connecting water-related taskings to the other major taskings and transitions in the country. “The choices that are currently being made with respect to housing, agriculture, energy, nature, and economic recovery will substantiate the spatial planning of the Netherlands for the decades to come and far beyond. We must ensure that such choices and measures are climate-proof, in order to secure the future of our low-lying delta, to ensure that our country remains a comfortable place to live, and to preserve the attractive business climate of the Netherlands.”
According to the Delta Programme Commissioner, the Office needs to adopt a more forceful approach to ensure that sufficient account will be taken of the rising sea level, of higher and also lower river discharge volumes, and of weather extremes. Water managing bodies must be involved in housing plans from the very start, in order to ensure that houses will be built at appropriate locations and that sufficient measures will be taken in new housing estates to cope with excess water during torrential rain and to retain water for periods of drought. Furthermore, he recommends that the Office should set aside funds for research into the long-term impact of climate change on cross-border rivers. A knowledge programme has already been launched to gain a proper picture of the consequences of sea level rise.
Delta Programme 2022 outlines the measures that the central government, the district water boards, the provinces, and the municipalities are collectively implementing to ensure that by 2050, the Netherlands will be resilient against flooding from the sea and the major rivers, and will be able to cope with extreme weather conditions (see map below). Via the Delta Fund, the central government is making an average of nearly 1.4 billion euros annually available to this end. Over the past year, some more major and remarkable projects were rolled out and completed. Under the Flood Protection Programme, for example, the Vianen dyke improvement was completed this year, as was the Lauwersmeer dyke project. Next year, work will commence on the 19.5 kilometre dyke stretch between Tiel and Waardenburg. Furthermore, Rijkswaterstaat is continuing the work on the IJsselmeer Closure Dam (Afsluitdijk), to ensure that the dyke will continue to provide flood protection in the future.
A major Limburg district water board project that was recently completed is the Ooijen-Wanssum Meuse Park in the northern part of Limburg, a nature reserve spanning 250 hectares that collects water at high water, thus reducing the Meuse water levels. This new collection facility proved its worth during the July flooding. In the city of Zwolle, a large water storage facility has been created near the railway station bicycle stands to collect excess water. Furthermore, several innovative pilot projects have been launched, e.g., on the island of Texel and near lake Lauwersmeer, to combat salinisation of farmland, and in the Wassenaar dunes to utilise brackish water in the purview of the drinking water supply.