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Daily Dutch News in English

Amsterdam canals cleaner and quieter in 2014

Amsterdam’s canals became cleaner and more peaceful in 2014. There are now more environmentally-friendly boats on the canals, and the total number of boats has decreased. Intensified and targeted enforcement also resulted in fewer reported cases of unlicensed passenger transportation. These changes are evident from the Canal Monitor (Grachtenmonitor) 2014.

The decrease in the number of watercraft has yielded some much-needed breathing space on the popular 17th-century canals, which form a UNESCO World Heritage site. In general, the report indicates that the 2014 boating season was significantly calmer than that of 2013, with fewer noise complaints in particular and improved compliance with regulations.

Alderperson Udo Kock (Water Management and Finance, D66 party) expressed his satisfaction with the figures: “Whenever you think of Amsterdam, it’s the canals that spring to mind. They give the city its unique, incomparable image. So we need to treat them with care. At the same time, everyone should be able to enjoy these beautiful surroundings without hindrance: residents, visitors and boat users. This Canal Monitor proves that recent policy has hit the mark, with the water becoming less cluttered, and noise complaints falling. We will continue with this policy in the coming years as part of our efforts to keep the canals as pleasant as they currently are.”

The major findings of the 2014 Canal Monitor are:

Space has been created on the canals: the number of “clutter boats” and non-paying boats has decreased by 27%. 12,200 mooring permits were sold in 2001; in 2014, this number was 9,648. There are now some 10,000 vessels moored in the canals.

The boats on the canals are becoming increasingly cleaner, thanks to incentive schemes. Since 2011, the number of environment stickers issued has more than doubled, from 631 to 1486.

The combination of the TNO water traffic model and the Vaarwater (Waterway) app is providing greater insight into traffic flows on the water, enabling traffic control measures to be taken in real time. For example, a one-way traffic pilot project was successfully introduced on the Singel and Prinsengracht canals in 2014, resulting in a reduction in traffic. The Vaarwater app adjusts the traffic flows on a daily basis by proposing smart boating routes. 45% of canal traffic uses the Vaarwater app. On a busy day such as King’s Day, this number rises to as much as 60%.

Unlicensed passenger transport has been tackled. All online advertising has been removed, and likewise a large number of websites with illicit special offers. The deployment of mystery guests has also proven to be a successful deterrent.

Additional Waternet enforcement officers have been deployed on busy summer days. More canal users were charged with noise and speeding offences.

Alongside stricter enforcement, determined efforts were made to improve the service provided. For example, by encouraging boat owners to name their boat. During a three-day campaign, 700 name stickers were provided to boat owners.