Nature-based engineering

Innovative, more natural solutions for flood risk management, water treatment and water storage in densely-populated delta areas: these are the focus of Nature-Based Engineering. It is now clear that sea-level rise, land subsidence, droughts and periods of extreme precipitation are the climate effects we will have to combat. And we can get nature to help a hand.
Rotterdam Urban Park

Rotterdam Urban Park

For example: plants and trees can be used to protect our dikes from the impact of waves, to retain water during droughts or extreme rainfall, and to improve water quality. And there are even more benefits: they capture CO2 and improve the natural value of an area. After all, everybody wants to live in natural green surroundings: that gives us a feeling of well-being and keeps us healthy. Green areas in cities also contribute to, for example, reducing heat stress.

Flood risk management

Ria Formosa, Portugal

Ria Formosa, Portugal

Traditional solutions like hard dikes are sometimes no longer adequate, or enormous investments are needed to raise and strengthen them. Deltares is using research, models and experiments to contribute to an alternative approach. That involves things like gradual sand nourishment for the coast to reduce levels of damage to the ecosystem. Or creating soft forebanks to mitigate wave impact so that the dike behind the forebank does not need to be raised or strengthened as much. We are already engaging in initiatives like this in the Netherlands with a range of stakeholders. But interest in natural solutions is also on the rise beyond our borders. For example, the restoration of mangroves is making coastal areas safer and allowing nature to recover. Combining sand nourishment with hard protection structures transforms sandy beaches into safe barriers between the sea and the hinterland. Deltares delivers tailor-made, validated solutions here.

Water treatment knowing the hydrological and ecological system

Clean and healthy water is valuable for people and nature. As drinking water, but also for the production of food or as a raw material for industry. With the expertise of Deltares relating to industrial intake and outfall plants, water quality and ecology, we can answer the question: ‘How do you make sure the water is cleaned up again to spare the environment?’ Deltares can get involved in discussions about functional design, and the effectiveness of the solution or plant adopted because we have an in-depth knowledge of the hydrological and ecological system. We know what substances are broken down by natural processes and how you can use those processes. We can show that water quality and the ecology really have improved. Deltares has laboratories and facilities where we can test innovations in this area. It is here, but also in the field, that we can check whether solutions work. In collaboration with others, we work on solutions for the Netherlands but we also work abroad, for example as an independent consultant for governments and NGOs.

Water storage using natural solutions

Waterberging Hooge Boezem, photo Frans Berkelaar

Water storage Hooge Boezem, photo Frans Berkelaar (Flickr)

Too much, too dirty and too little. A lot can go wrong with our precious water. The solution seems to be to store water for drier times. But where are the best locations for water storage? Where can you find a natural location where quality and quantity are guaranteed? Deltares gives authorities a clear picture of cost savings and the effectiveness of storage using natural solutions. Our hydrological and water quality software makes a robust assessment of ecologically sound water storage possible. And we have the simulation tools needed to explain the decisions to stakeholders. Floods, heat stress and water shortages in a single approach. We produce overview maps for groundwater. In that way, you know where and how much water there is, how usable it is, and how it can best be managed. We work with the government authorities, cities, industry and other research institutes to make this possible.

So you can take evidence-based decisions in favour of sustainable and natural solutions for water management. We would like to help.