Freshwater availability in the Delta Programme

The Freshwater Delta Decision, which is part of the Delta Programme, was drafted to ensure that adequate supplies of fresh water will continue to be available, now and in the future, for essential services such as drinking water and agriculture. Deltares provided the quantitative basis for the scenarios in the Freshwater Sub-Programme, which drafted the Delta Decision. We also identified promising solutions by describing the impact of measures on water supplies, water allocation and water demand.

Demand for fresh water in the Netherlands is increasing. Studies from institutions including the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) have shown that supplies may decline in the future as a result of climate change. The Freshwater Delta Decision indicates how the available water should be allocated during dry periods and what interventions will be needed to make supplies of fresh water more robust and/or to reduce demand for water.

Beregening landbouw.  Laat op de avond in de droogteperiode van

Climate and society

The Delta Programme combines climate scenarios with socio-economic developments such as urbanisation, changes in agriculture and population growth. As a result, an overview is now available for the first time of plausible developments in the future of freshwater supplies, including the consequences for all groups of freshwater users, from households to agriculture and industry. The Deltares analysis showed that climate change will have effects that are many times more far-reaching than socio-economic developments. In response, the Delta Commissioner amended the adaptation strategy.

Multiple tools

The potential difficulties with freshwater supplies were identified on the basis of detailed calculations from the Delta Model. Deltares subsequently designed a simple calculation tool derived from the Delta Model. Using the tool made it possible to calculate the impact of a very large number of interventions in a very brief space of time, for example taking only large-scale users such as agriculture into account. These quick scans were used to identify the most promising interventions, which were then analysed using the complex Delta Model for the definitive recommendations.

Joint fact-finding

The Freshwater Sub-Programme involves intensive collaboration between researchers, policymakers, civil servants and users. Workshops were organised to share knowledge and to discuss scenarios, measures and the outcomes of calculations. In that way, policy officers from water authorities or representatives of water users (farmers, the National Forestry Department, nature conservation organisations, etc.) were able to provide direct feedback and input for the quick scans and the detailed analyses conducted by Deltares. This ‘joint fact-finding’ approach established a sound basis for the strategy in the Freshwater Delta Decision.

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