The Netherlands is a world leader in managing water. Over the decades, the Dutch have mastered the art of flood protection and water supply and treatment. As maritime engineers, we also excel in shipbuilding, from utility vessels to super yachts. Dutch maritime expertise is in demand worldwide. We are a major supplier of sustainable systems for the production and supply of water and for the collection, treatment and partial reintroduction of "used" water into the system. The Dutch water sector includes several large engineering firms with global operations. Platforms such as the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) promote international cooperation. The water sector is strongly focused on exports and continuous innovation.
Water is fundamental to the Dutch culture
As well as a threat, water is also essential to life in the delta so, perhaps more than any other sector, the water sector is fundamental to Dutch culture and character. The water sector has 3 primary focus areas: water technology; maritime technology; and delta technology; and these are concerned with protecting the land, generating energy, smart technologies for water recycling, and safe and efficient ships. Dutch water expertise is amongst the best in the world.
5 reasons why the Dutch handle water challenges so well
1. Water is in the Dutch DNA
The history and prosperity of the Dutch nation are inextricably linked with water, it’s in our DNA. Large areas of the Netherlands have been reclaimed from the sea and two-thirds of the country would regularly flood if it weren’t for a complex, inter-linked system of dikes and surge barriers.
2. Dutch water technologies safeguard water and environment
Climate change, expanding economies, and urbanisation are putting the world’s delta populations at risk. Dutch expertise is at hand, however, in the form of hydraulic engineering, flood control, flood protection, foundation technology and infrastructure. The Dutch are renowned for their ability to design and build storm surge barriers and levees, reclaim land through high-tech dredging and engineer entire coastal areas and harbours. The Dutch also excel at river engineering and maintenance and are pioneering climate adaptive construction, which allows houses to be built in flood-prone areas.
3. Water treatment expertise
The drinking water sector in the Netherlands is publicly-owned. Ten semi-public water companies supply drinking water. Municipal authorities manage the sewer system and 25 regional, government-run water boards organise the treatment of municipal waste water. Numerous Dutch companies are recognised specialists in the treatment of industrial waste water and several consultancies are globally renowned for their water treatment expertise.
The Dutch began using innovative waste water treatment techniques in the 1970s. Some 99.9% of Dutch households have access to clean, entirely chlorine-free drinking water. Additionally, the level of recycling of industrial waste water is high, and this recycled water is of such high quality that it can be used in the food and beverage industries.
At the same time, billions of people worldwide lack access to clean water and sanitary facilities. Dutch water technology, however, is making a difference. Water is collected, filtered and re-cycled with high levels of quality and service in an integrated cycle, with the focus on sustainable economic development.
4. Integrated water management solutions
The Dutch are renowned for their integrated water management and multi-disciplinary approach that balances social, economic, environmental and engineering needs (‘Building with Nature’).
Dutch companies are involved in the sustainable development of low-lying urban agglomerations such as Jakarta and Bangladesh, and coastal development in areas such as Dubai, Vietnam and Romania.
5. Investing in research and development
Dutch academia and the private sector invest heavily in water-related R&D, which has resulted in frequent innovations in areas such as filtration. The Dutch invest heavily in innovation and R&D through public private partnerships. These include renowned institutes such as Deltares, MARIN, Wetsus and KWR Watercycle Research Institute. TNO and large Dutch private firms are also recognised for their water R&D. The investments resulted in innovations including membrane technology, anaerobic water purification, membrane bioreactor (MBR - small scale and high quality) and Anammox technology.
Get to know the Dutch and their relation to water through this video:
In 'Going Dutch', Mark van Eeuwen shows how water plays a crucial role in the lives of the Dutch. The Netherlands have been battling with water for years, which led to large waters projects all around the world.