Are these projects now proving their worth?
Yes, say the experts. Take the village of Borgharen near Maastricht: it was flooded in 1995, but has now remained dry. Much has been done in the part of the Meuse between Maastricht and Maasbracht, where the river forms the border with Belgium, explains Harold van Waveren, water safety specialist at the Rijkswaterstaat. “A lot of earth has been excavated from the riverbanks in more than ten places over a very long stretch, to create more space for the water.” Channels have also been dug in various places, which now lower water levels to one meter. “It really helps. “
Docks have also been built around Borgharen, among others. Partly because of this, the village has now remained dry. “There you can see that it worked.”
Asselman is also optimistic about the usefulness of all the efforts, although the nuisance cannot be avoided with rainfall as heavy as last week. “But without the Meuse Works, many villages along the Meuse would have been flooded, probably even more deeply than in 1993 and 1995.”
How long are we safe with this?
The works of the Meuse are not yet completed; Completion of the project is scheduled for 2027. According to Rijkswaterstaat, for example, a secondary canal will be built near Maasband and gravel will also be extracted from the Meuse for the time being to give more space to the water.
Even in this case, remaining seated is not an option, had previously warned Jeroen Aerts, professor of climatic and water risks at the VU. Because extreme weather conditions will occur more often, solutions will have to be thought of more broadly “on the drawing board”. “You can store even more water and collect it locally, or better protect critical infrastructure and build less in vulnerable areas. Ultimately, fewer surfaces need to be paved for the ground to absorb water. everything has to happen eventually. “
So we tackle the big rivers, what about the Geul and the Roer?
The measures taken for rivers such as the Meuse and the Rhine have not been taken for the rivers which have overflowed in recent days, such as the Geul in Valkenburg. The question is what could be done there, says Asselman, an expert at Deltares. “The situation is really very different in Valkenburg than in Borgharen, for example.”
For example, the region of Valkenburg is narrower and the Geul crosses the center of the city instead of surrounding it. A high dike is not an obvious choice there. “It was easier to do along the Meuse.”