The Netherlands and China learn from one another’s rivers

The executive arm of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, is going to collaborate with the Chinese government and exchange knowledge of the respective basins of the Rhine and the Huai rivers. To establish this collaboration, State Secretary Atsma of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment will sign an agreement this week in China. The respective basins of the rivers Rhine and Huai are very similar but, due to its climate, floods occur much more frequently in China. By sharing experiences and using the same methods for predicting water drainage and managing crises, Rijkswaterstaat can learn quite a lot from the Huai river. ‘’This knowledge is vitally important to us for coming up with plans to protect the areas adjacent to the Rhine,’’ says State Secretary Atsma.

Both rivers quickly drain water from mountain areas to densely populated lowlands that are susceptible to flooding. Because the two river basins are so similar, Rijkswaterstaat can supplement the information it has on the river Rhine with data and experiences of the Huai river. To measure this data, China will make use of the Rijkswaterstaat systems. The knowledge gained will make the scenarios used for the river Rhine more precise. Rijkswaterstaat and the Huai Commission will officially collaborate for three years. From the Dutch side, the knowledge institute Deltares and the international water education institute UNESCO-IHE will take part in this collaboration.

State Secretary Atsma of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment visited the river basin area of the Huai river today at Bengbu. Bengbu is a prosperous Chinese city, but the lowlands upstream are one of the poorer regions of China. The poverty in the region is closely related to the frequent flooding there and the Chinese government has invested heavily in the region over the last decade in the area of water safety.

During the visit, the State Secretary and representatives from Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares and UNESCO-IHE inspected ‘the Water Gates’ at Bengbu. The Huai river has a number of these complexes of sluices and dams. The volume of water in the river can be regulated by opening these sluices and dams. In this way, they serve a function with respect to water consumption, flood protection, shipping navigation, the generation of electricity and road transport (some Gates also serve as cross-river connections). During times of extremely high water, the water is channelled to ‘retention areas’, more than 25 of which are located in the river basin. Here the population lives in villages that are surrounded by dikes or built on raised ground, so that the population is protected while the surrounding farmland floods.

source: Rijkswaterstaat

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