Rijkswaterstaat Takes Down Noordwaard Levee

Instead of raising the river levee, the Dutch national public works Rijkswaterstaat started to lower the levee along the river Rhine with 3 meter over a length of 2 km.

In case of an extreme river discharge, the river will overtop the lowered levee and flood the hinterland, the Noordwaard polder.

During the past four years Rijkswaterstaat has restructured this 2,000 ha polder so it can flood without posing a risk to the remaining 50 homes, and farmers can maintain their farm lands.

On 1 April CEO Jan Hendrik Dronkers of Rijkswaterstaat and René Cruijsen of regional water authority Rivierenland launched the actual depoldering of Noordwaard. They controlled two excavators and took the first chunks of earth out of the river levee, near Werkendam.


Excavation of the primary flood defense of the Noordwaard polder, is the final stage of one of the biggest projects of the national Room for the River program.

Next step in flood protection

CEO Jan Hendrik Dronkers of Rijkswaterstaat explained that the depoldering of Noordwaard is a logical next step in the development of flood risk management in the Netherlands.

We always have to improve it. Doing so, we have realized that we cannot raise our defenses endlessly. We learned that it is better to live with the water and use nature to reduce our flood risks. This is what we are now putting to practice along the Rhine in a string of 30 projects.”

The Noordwaard depoldering project is scheduled to be ready by October this year.

About Room for the River

Room for the River is a national flood prevention program, comprising 30 projects mainly along the river Rhine, the Netherlands’ largest river.

The program has two objectives. By giving the Rhine river more room its discharge capacity will rise from 15.000 m3/s to 16.000 m3/s. Additionally the projects will improve the spatial quality as well, making the river also economic and environmental more vital.

The Room for the River program will cost about EUR 2.3 billion.

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