What about raising ground level in the Netherlands by five metres using sand from the North Sea as a solution to the rising sea level? Not very realistic, admits Niels Roode from the Dutch water authority Rijkswaterstaat, but the thought illustrates the way his organisation is seeking novel ways to address climate change.
The Netherlands has never been safer, the man from Rijkswaterstaat hastened to add, but simply making the dykes higher is no longer enough to deal with the expected rise in water levels. The costs alone are enough to prompt a search for an alternative approach to ‘flooding safety’, as it is called in Rijkswaterstaat jargon.
Rijkswaterstaat is now actively seeking dialogue with the government and public bodies so that responsibility for risks arising from calamities can be shared. One of the ideas is compulsory flood insurance for all Dutch citizens. It is almost certain that this will be introduced, Roode said. Compartmentalising the fourteen dyked areas in the Netherlands is politically more sensitive. The plan is that, in the event of a flood, the water would be diverted to areas where the least damage would be done. The problem is that nobody wants to live in an area that may become designated as a flood area, predicted Roode.