This sector includes organisations that are responsible for the management of (surface) water and the natural environment. Important organisations include the Department of Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) and the Forestry Commission (Staatsbosbeheer), the water authorities, water supply companies, miscellaneous nature managers, STOWA as a knowledge broker, other governments (mainly provinces and municipalities), knowledge institutes and technology suppliers.
Themes of the water and environmental management sector
European legislation imposes ever stricter requirements when it comes to water quality. Furthermore, agreements have been made about the preservation and recovery of biodiversity and natural values. It is necessary to take measures that counteract the negative effects of climate change (climate adaptation). This includes both a temporary excess of water (as a result of heavier precipitation) and a shortage of water that may lead to salinisation and desiccation. The challenge is to move from a sectoral to an integral approach, which includes all relevant aspects.
To tackle these challenges, a number of relevant developments are important:
- Proper surface water quality: wastewater is treated in an efficient manner to achieve high water quality. Innovations are an important factor here (see also Wastewater). Furthermore, measures are taken to keep the surface water healthy. This includes the elimination of blue algae, the removal of invasive vegetation (floating pennywort) and the construction of environmentally-friendly banks.
- Effective dykes to keep the water in. In the Netherlands, new frameworks and standards have been established for dykes. These are based on the concept of multi-layer safety, which focuses on prevention (sufficiently robust dykes), spatial planning (what can and may be done in a given environment) and risk management (before, during and after a calamity). Innovative developments pertaining to the construction of dykes (including nature-based solutions), monitoring and risk management are important factors in this.
- Strategic cooperation: water authorities cooperate strategically with a number of other parties. This can be done on a permanent or temporary basis and includes cooperative alliances with e.g. businesses specialising in waterway construction, developers and suppliers of sensor technology and governments. Together with these partners, water authorities develop new products, services and technologies in order to keep the issue of water manageable and affordable.
Relevant grant programmes
Examples of projects in the water and environmental management sector
NOAH, Interreg: Decision support system
LIFE, Hydrochip: Monitoring the quality of surface water