Chapter 5: Cost–benefit Analysis and Flood Control Policy in the Netherlands
R. Brouwer and J.M. Kind
5. Cost–beneﬁt analysis and ﬂood control policy in The Netherlands R. Brouwer and J.M. Kind1 1. FLOOD CONTROL AND SAFETY POLICY IN THE NETHERLANDS For centuries the Dutch have reclaimed and drained land and raised dikes to protect themselves against ﬂooding. Protection against ﬂooding has always been the government’s primary water policy objective in a country of which approximately two-thirds is situated below sea level. Dikes have always been the most important means to achieve this. Over the years, 53 diﬀerent dike enclosures have been constructed for those areas located below sea level. Each of these enclosures has a diﬀerent safety level, expressed in an acceptable probability at which dikes and other water retaining structures along the coast, the rivers Rhine and Meuse and the IJsselmeer district have to hold, that is, not breach and prevent ﬂooding. These safety levels have legal status and range from once every 1250 years to once every 10 000 years (Figure 5.1). As can be seen in Figure 5.1, the safety levels are highest in the western part of The Netherlands and become gradually lower when moving from west to east. The safety levels are based upon the probability of ﬂooding and its consequences for both people and the material damage caused by ﬂooding to buildings and economic losses in the area vulnerable to ﬂooding. The western parts of The Netherlands are the most densely populated areas in the country, with large cities like Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam, and,...
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