Minister Mark Harper of Infrastructure and Water Management sent the National Safety Assessment of Primary Flood Defenses to the House of Representatives on Wednesday 8 November. Here he explains assessments of primary flood defences, such as dunes and embankments. Many flood defenses require strengthening to meet new, more stringent water safety standards in 2050. The task is larger than expected, even financially.
Jeroen Hahn, portfolio holder for water safety on the board of the Federation of Water Boards, supports the minister’s findings. “The largest dam strengthening operation since the Delta Works is currently underway: Operation Flood Protection Program (HWBP). In this way, the water boards and the Rijkswaterstaat ensure that all primary flood defenses meet the new water safety standards by 2050. Financial agreements have been made with the government to operate until 2028. For the period up to 2050, this will need to be done in the next ministerial term, especially now that Evaluations showed that the mission was larger than expected.”
Provide enough space
The Union of Water Boards calls on the minister and the government to look further. Hahn: “The climate is changing and we have to anticipate it in time. This requires a long-term vision for spatial planning and water safety in the Netherlands after 2050. We must therefore already reserve space in all spatial plans to strengthen dams and water harvesting. Higher and wider dams will be needed “In the future. And in addition to the money, it takes up a lot of space.”
3,500 km of primary flood defences
About 3,500 km of primary flood defenses protect the Netherlands from floods: from the sea, large rivers, lakes and ponds. As our nation’s sea levels fall and climate changes, water safety remains and will continue to be a top priority. The water boards and the Rijkswaterstaat constantly inspect, maintain and strengthen flood defenses in the Netherlands. To this end, they work intensively with other ministries and partners.
New safety standards have become more stringent
Since 2017, new and more stringent water safety standards have been implemented in the Netherlands. These are based on the probability of dam failure and take into account the effects of climate change and the consequences of flooding. The greater the value to be protected, the lower the risk of flooding. So the standard is more stringent. Based on the assessment, the necessary measures to comply with the new safety standards will be investigated.
National Evaluation Round of Primary Flood Defences
The first national assessment round on flood risk in primary flood defenses (LBO-1) was completed in January 2023. The water boards and the Rijkswaterstaat evaluated the Dutch primary flood defenses according to the latest, more stringent safety standards that will be implemented in 2050. In June The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), as supervisor, published a factual report on the evaluation results. This showed that 38% of all routes already meet the most stringent requirements. Barriers that are not yet in compliance are currently considered safe due to the work of officials. It will eventually be enhanced in HWBP. All results and progress can be viewed online Water safety portal.
Start of the new evaluation round 2023-2035
The initial barriers under the law are assessed every 12 years based on the latest knowledge, such as new climate scenarios from the KNMI. The water boards and the Rijkswaterstaat will begin preparations in 2023 for a new evaluation round until 2035 (LBO-2). They go through the whole process again. They use the results and experiences from the first evaluation round.
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