More water, greenery, clean energy, recreation and space for rowers: according to the rowing clubs of Utrecht, the Rijnenburg polder can meet all these needs. Rowing enthusiast Anne de Lange has already set up a new rowing club, with Rijnenburg as her future base. Together with Triton, Orca, Viking and the Watersportbaan Midden-Nederland Foundation, the Rowing Club Rijnenburg is committed to a multifunctional residential, nature and leisure area in Rijnenburg, with an eye on rowers.
Where should Utrecht rowers go? This is a problem that rowing clubs and the municipality of Utrecht have been thinking about for years. The Merwede Canal, traditionally the base of rowers in Utrecht, is becoming too cramped for the ever-growing associations. For this reason, competitive rowers have already moved to Vianen.
Rowing clubs are now diligently seeking more water to row closer to town. In a report they presented to the municipality on Monday, the associations plead together for a rowing course in the Rijnenburg polder. According to them, space for rowers at this place can be well combined with living space, water collection, sustainable energy production, nature and recreation.
Fifty years ago, according to Anne de Lange, people were already looking for an alternative rowing water in Utrecht. “The political stars are finally in a favorable position,” he says. According to De Lange, the new rowing venue in Rijnenburg has broad support within the new city council. It is therefore no coincidence that the rowing clubs of Utrecht now present their report to the city council. For example, the ideas can still be included in negotiations for the new coalition, they believe.
Earlier this year, GroenLinks presented plans to turn Rijnenburg into an Utrecht variant of the Amsterdamse Bos. There, a rowing course will be combined with a recreation area, which also offers space for walkers and events. The D66 election program also shows that this party sees salvation in new rowing waters in Rijnenburg.
What should the future Rijnenburg, including a rowing course, look like, according to the rowing clubs? The report contains a number of suggestions, called All of Utrecht wins with rowing† This report was written with the help of Inge Janssen, Olympic rower from Utrecht and adviser on the sustainable development of territories, Joost Hagens, rowing coach and partner at the consulting firm BUITEN, specializing in economics and environment, and World Cup rower, coach and hydrologist Toine Vergroesen. In their plan for Rijnenburg there is of course plenty of room for rowers. But, they say, rowing water is also important for the rest of Utrecht.
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According to the water board, Utrecht’s capacity is insufficient to collect large quantities of water from torrential downpours, such as that in Limburg last year. Such showers will become more frequent in the future due to climate change. The lower part of the Rijnenburg polder is mentioned in the report as an ideal location for a buffer zone to collect water. This water could be reused as a source of renewable energy, in addition to solar panels and wind turbines, thanks to aquathermal energy, a method of heating homes for example.
The rowing clubs want to see the birth around this body of water of a space of nature and leisure, where there is room for walkers, various sports and entertainment. Rijnenburg could thus become a nice addition to the Amelisweerd nature reserve, they say.
De Lange hopes that plans can already be made for the rowing course in Rijnenburg during this municipal term. Then rowing will take place in 2028, “one hundred years after the Olympic rowing competition in Amsterdam”.
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