Subcase study Niederrhein

Leader(s) Niederrhein

Aerts, Jeroen, VU-IVM, ACER, email: bouke.ottow[at]
Buiteveld, Hendrik, RIZA, email: hendrik.buiteveld[at]

You are very welcome to contact the case study leaders if you are looking for the most recent information on the case study in the Rhine Basin.

Tasks and activities
In this subcase the ACER and NeWater research projects aim to support the development of a long-term vision on transboundary flood management in Nordrhein-Westphalia (NRW) and Gelderland. Participatory methods will be used to gain a broad perspective on the issues concerning longer term transboundary flood management and on possible management options and their effectiveness. Via interviews, individual views and interests will be elicited. In joint workshops, individual perspectives will be exchanged and similarities and differences identified. Several scenarios and strategies will be developed and assessed.

The ACER project specifically aims to develop new adaptive cross-boundary strategies to cope with climate change and socio-economic developments (2050) at the Nieder-Rhein region. To assess the robustness of different strategies, an integrated basin wide atmospheric-hydrological model will be developed.


NiederRhein regional case study

Joint case study commissioned under the NEWATER and ACER projects

In recent years, the Netherlands and Germany have been confronted on several occasions with water-related problems caused by high water levels in the rivers (1993 and 1995) and by excessive rainfall (1993, 1994 and 1998). Also extreme droughts (2003) are increasingly drawing attention to water managers Traditionally, water management in the Netherlands (and somewhat less pronounced in Germany) has been focused on flood control measures such as river training and construction of embankments. After the high floods in the 1990’s Dutch authorities acknowledged that this strategy is not sufficient to maintain safety standards in the future. Together with climate changes, i.e. more intense precipitation rates and hence more rainfall runoff is expected, a new sustainable flood risk strategy is imperative. This strategy would be based on minimizing the consequences of flooding: the new paradigm in water management became ‘learning to live with the floods’. Similar developments can be observed in Germany where sustainability is being addressed in new flood storage and retention areas by, for example, combinations with nature areas

It is acknowledged that the effect of new flood risk strategies in both the Netherlands and Germany can be further optimized if they are applied to the whole basin with improved cross border cooperation. This notion has been underpinned by recent large scale flooding events across Europe, which showed that flood risk management demands an international approach in order to minimize the impact of such floods in the future. Hence, several (inter)national programs have been initiated focusing on the development of transnational flood risk management in the Rhine basin. An example is the cooperation between the Netherlands and Germany in the NiederRhein area.

The Niederrhein comprises that section of the River Rhine that runs from the German city of Cologne (Köln), more downstream to gauging station Lobith (NL) across the Dutch-German border. One challenge is fine-tuning cross border policies, such as the difference in flood safety standards between the province of Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany) and the Netherlands. Furthermore, recent studies (e.g. IRMA-SPONGE) showed that adaptation measures taken in the Niederrhein basin largely influence discharge levels in the Netherlands. And, it is still not clear if measures that are currently being implemented upstream in Germany are effective to cope with extreme floods or droughts downstream in the future (ICPR, 1998; Hooijer et al., 2004).

Goal and Research questions

The main goal of this study is to investigate current cross-boundary cooperation on flood risk and drought adaptation strategies between Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Netherlands under climate change. The geographical focus is on the Niederrhein river basin and the Dutch Rhine Delta. The research will assess possible discontinuities in the fine-tuning process between both Rhine countries. For achieving the goal, the following research questions have been setup (indicated with a link to either the Newater or ACER projects):

Stakeholder Web page Contact NeWater Institute

Arbeitsgruppe Hochwasser (German-Dutch Working Group on Flood Management)

  Rita Lammersen

Acer-Team members (sign in please)
Name (and e-mail address of Acer members) Institute WP Tasks
Aerts, Jeroen VU-IVM    
Gert Becker  VU-IVM    
Raadgever, Tom RBA 1.2 / 1.3  
Mostert, Erik RBA 1.2 / 1.3