The governance of smart combinations: Rules for collaboration on flood-risk mitigation

Changing the approach to flood-risk policy (in other words, introducing a range of measures to mitigate flood risks) implies taking a new look at governance in order to create more opportunities for a customised regional approach. That was the main conclusion of the study conducted by Erasmus University and Deltares for the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the New Construction and Restructuring Delta Programme.

The results of this study play an important role in the formulation of the final Delta Decision relating to flood protection.

Rijkswaterstaat, room for the river IJssel

Numerous options for a smarter approach to flood protection

Smarter, by investing less in dikes on some occasions, and more in spatial planning or disaster management. In a number of situations, a combination of measures of this kind can save money and provide immediate added value for society as a whole. The definition of the flood protection issue at the right scale is crucial. In the rivers area of the Netherlands, more room for rivers is a feasible option. In other areas, opportunities arise precisely by looking at the entire dike system or strengthening dike sections by, for example, linking these activities to investments (for example by commercial parties) in other developments such as building construction.

Spatial alternatives as fully-fledged alternatives to upgrading dikes

The researchers looked at areas that include the alternative flood protection strategies for the island of Dordrecht, Marken and the IJssel-Vecht delta. Regional government authorities are hard at work here on tackling flood protection from the perspective of flood-risk mitigation and looking for ways of implementing customised solutions. The study of spatial alternatives as a fully-fledged alternative to upgrading dikes is crucial here.
Every situation is different, believes senior researcher Gerald Jan Ellen of Deltares. “The situation on the island of Marken is impossible to compare with the situation of the island of Dordrecht. And so the solutions are different, too. Every solution requires customised agreements in terms of financing, forms of collaboration and task allocation. If national government creates opportunities for customised solutions, regional actors are intelligent enough to use these opportunities carefully and to fill in the details. It will then be possible to use the available resources for dike upgrades for things like strengthening regional defences – a compartmentalisation dike, for example – or creating evacuation routes”.

Formulation of the final delta decision on flood protection

The results of this study play an important role in the formulation of the final Delta Decision relating to flood protection that was published by the Delta Commissioner in September 2014.