U.S. Water News Online
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The Dutch Cabinet has approved a
euro14 billion (US$18.5 billion) increase in spending on water
defenses and water quality improvements over the next 20 years, part
of an accelerating push to keep up with problems caused by climate
Around two-thirds of the country's population of 16 million lives
below sea level, and the government already spends euro500 million
(US$660 million) annually on maintaining the intricate system of sea
and river dikes that keep the Dutch dry.
In a statement, the Cabinet said it would split the money between
water defense improvements needed for safety reasons, and water
quality improvements agreed by the European Union, but it would
prioritize the safety improvements.
The government would not complete all the work required by the EU
guidelines by the target date of 2015, in order to save money by
combining some of it with other building projects, the statement
However, "we will stick to (our) plan for preventing water damage.
That means that in 2015, the risks of damage will be less," the
statement said. "Carrying out these measures has a high priority,
considering future climate change."
Dutch policy makers work on assumptions made by their own Royal
Weather Institute, which predict an increase in average temperature
in the Netherlands of 1-2 degrees Celsius (1.8-3.6 degrees F) by
2050, compared with 1990, and a rise in sea level of 15-35
centimeters (6-14 inches).
The extra spending comes on top of euro3 billion (US$4 billion) in
extra projects this decade against the threat from river floods, as
Dutch climate models predict global warming will lead to more abrupt
showers in the Rhine catchment area, whose water ultimately funnels
through the Netherlands on its way out to the sea.
Dutch thinking on water defense in the past decade has gradually
shifted away from just strengthening dikes and dunes -- though that
remains crucial -- to a concept termed "living with water" which
looks at how to absorb or divert sudden influxes of water, and being
more ready for coping with floods when they occur.
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