Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden

In the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden – the area around the cities of Rotterdam and Dordrecht – water comes from two directions: the sea and the rivers. It is a densely populated area of immense economic significance to the Netherlands. All these factors add to the vulnerability of the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden Region. That is why a Preferential Strategy has been drawn up for this area, under the national Delta Programme. 

Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden is an area of extremes: with port activities, urban areas, the Greenports (horticulture), and the Biesbosch nature reserve. Economic and spatial development is only possible if its flood risk management, freshwater supply, and climate resilience are up to par, for now and in the future. The Preferential Strategy for the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden Region has been drawn up to achieve this goal. The region has been working on the implementation of this strategy since 2014. The Strategy was reviewed in 2020. Its framework is constituted by the three Delta Decisions – on Flood Risk Management, on Freshwater Supply, and on Spatial Adaptation – along with the Delta Decision on the Rhine-Meuse Delta.


A number of dyke sections in the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden area do not meet the current standards. In recent years, a higher protection level has been agreed upon for most of the dykes, because of the increase in population and economic value behind the dykes. Furthermore, near dyke sections that are constructed on peat, subsidence is causing additional issues in terms of safety.

In the longer run, the sea level rise and increasing river discharges ensuing from climate change will add to the flood risk management tasking. Expectations are that longer periods of drought will occur, which will put additional pressure on the freshwater supply in the area. Finally, the region is faced with a spatial adaptation tasking, involving areas such as the floodplains.


Under the national Delta Programme for the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden Region, the province, municipalities, district water boards, Security Regions, the central government, and the regional business community are collaborating on the implementation of the Preferential Strategy for the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden Region.

Go on to 

  • Preferential Strategy for the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden Region 
  • Measures pertaining to the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden Region