Innovation in the face of rising sea levels

05 Jul 2019

RPS Netherlands environmental engineers were among a range of international guest speakers at the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management's recent Rivers and Coastal Group annual study weekend. The event which took place in Delft, Netherlands celebrated CIWEM’s 70th anniversary, with the fitting theme ‘Planning and Innovation in the Water Sector’. RPS was also represented by engineers from our Belfast teams.

RPS Netherlands staff shared their experience of a number of unique projects including major upgrade works of an impressive 32km long dam which was originally constructed in the North of Holland in 1932. Sandor de Kluizenaar, Technical Director at RPS Netherlands demonstrated how the Dutch are working with the natural environment to manage water and provide recreational benefits through the innovative design of the new “Three Man Polder” system in The Hague. Speakers from the UK also shared their experiences, which included research into the effectiveness of Natural Flood Management solutions currently ongoing in England.

The study weekend concluded with a series of site visits. First up was a trip to the Sand Motor, an experimental pilot project which is expected to naturally re-nourish the Delfland Coast for the next 20 years. The group then travelled to the nearby Maeslantkering, South Holland's iconic huge storm surge barrier. The barrier is formed by two 210m wide and 22m high doors and is one of the biggest moveable structures in the world, which can be automatically closed in less than two hours when Holland is threatened by severe flooding.

Overall, the event provided a fascinating insight into the Dutch innovation in responding to the increasing challenges from urbanisation, climate change and living with water in the future, with visitors to the event keen to spark discussions about how we can use some of these ideas to continue delivering great sustainable water and environment solutions to our clients.

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