Safe river management and an attractive living environment. That are the main goals that Room for the River has set for itself. The programme is working on more than 30 locations along the branches of the Rhine river - such as the IJssel, the Waal, the Nederrijn and the Lek in order to protect four million people living near the rivers againstflooding - while at the same time improving the spatial quality of the river watershed.

The situation today

The rivers in the Netherlands are expected to drain higher volumes of rain and melt water from upstream in the near future. Unfortunately, the space between the dykes does not offer enough room for all of the extra water, which increases the chance of flooding. By making more room for the river we can ensure that the water is able to drain away faster and more effectively, in order to prevent floods that could have catastrophic consequences for people, animals, infrastructure and the economy.


River water levels must be reduced

Only raising the dykes is not enough to hold back the ever-increasing risk of flooding. The water level in the rivers must be lowered as well. That is why we are giving the rivers more room, for example by moving the dykes or dredging side channels in the flood plains.

We are also taking advantage of the river expansions to reinforce the spatial quality of the river areas by utilising the opportunities present on and around the river banks. This includes the beautification of the urban and rural river landscapes, as well as adding and enhancing recreational facilities. The programme also creates local economic opportunities, and it gives the rural economy an impulse through the many contracts granted to the water management sector for the realisation of the projects.

Spatial quality

What makes the programme truly unique is its dual goal of water safety and spatial quality. The Q-team, Room for the River’s special quality team, focuses on the latter goal: to improve the spatial quality. The team does not make spacial plans of its own but rather offers advice upon request and at its own initiative. It is a constant partner in discussions with the programme bureau, and it conducts Implementation Inspections of the spatial quality during the realisation and delivery phases of the projects. After a project is completed, the Q-team writes a Final Spatial Quality Evaluation.

Read more about the Q-team

The Q-team visits the projects to advise on the maintenance and enhancement of the spatial quality in relation to water safety.

The team consists of five independent experts:

  • Eric Luiten, landscape architect and chairperson, National Advisor for Landscape and Water
  • Frans Klijn, physical geographer
  • Maurits de Hoog, urban planner
  • Dick de Bruin, water management expert
  • Sjef Jansen, ecologist

In its annual reports, the Q-team describes its experiences and lessons learned over the past years. Three annual reports have been published to date: 2006-2007, 2008 and 2009-2011. The annual reports can be downloaded via Issuu or requested by clicking on the contact link.

Take a moment to consult our long read about spatial quality.

International spin-off

The knowledge and experience gained by Room for the River has also made an impression abroad. Delegations from around the world visit our country to learn about our projects and to find inspiration in our integrated regional approach and our manner of cooperation. This exchange of knowledge in turn leads to international partnerships and our ‘governance approach’ has put the Netherlands on the map as the world’s leading water manager.

Work is never done

Protecting the Netherlands from high water is a never-ending job. As the climate changes, our country is increasingly threatened with flooding, so we have to remain vigilant to protect ourselves from high water. We do not have the luxury of waiting until something happens; we have to take measures in advance to ensure that we can work and live in our country safely. Today and in the future.

In order to raise awareness of Dutch water issues, the programmes aimed at protecting the country against flooding work together under the auspices of Ons Water (‘Our Water’), a national campaign for raising awareness.

For more information about the various programmes, see:

Deltaprogramma (The Delta Programme): a new Delta Plan for the 21st century.
Hoogwaterbeschermingsprogramma (High Water Protection Programme): part of the national Delta Programme.
HWBP-2 (second High Water Protection Programme) : one of the major national dyke improvement programmes carried out by Rijkswaterstaat.