Photo by Mc King
The Room for the Waal project in the city of Nijmegen, part of the national Room for the River initiative, opened yesterday during a windy ceremony.
National program to give rivers more room
Room for the River is a national program in the Netherlands to give rivers more room to flood without causing costly damage. In Nijmegen, extreme flooding in 1993 and 1995 made it clear that the River Waal was too narrow to drain large volumes of water. And so, local government decided to act, but in a way that nature still could have its way. The Room for the Waal project was born.
Between the cities of Nijmegen and Lent, the River Waal makes a sharp bend, which is narrow in the winter. During extreme high water levels, the location acts as a bottleneck, making it difficult for water to drain.
The Room for the Waal project has solved this problem by moving the dyke at Lent 350 meters inland. An ancillary channel was dredged in the floodplain to help drain the river during extremely high water. This in turn creates better flood protection for the area behind the dyke.
Not only does the River Waal now have an area to overflow in, but during low water, a unique city island opens up with a river park. After three years of digging and building, the Room for the Waal project was recently completed. It shows once again how the Dutch, and in this case the people from Nijmegen, have learned how to turn the battle with water into opportunities for the city and a robust protection for future generations.