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Resilient soil and water resources,
understanding the water beneath your feet.


New publication: A scenario analysis of climate change and adaptation measures to inform Dutch policy in The Netherlands

05 October 2022 - Published by Jens Uvijn

Although the TOPSOIL project has now ended, results and findings continue to be produced by the consortium. So also a paper by partners from the Province of  Drenthe and Waterboard Hunze & Aa’s, in collaboration with Wagening University, was recently  published in the JOURNAL OF WATER AND LAND DEVELOPMENT:  A scenario analysis of climate change and adaptation measures to inform Dutch policy in The Netherlands.

The water table in many parts of The Netherlands is shallow. There is a dense network of watercourses, primarily to drain the agricultural land in wet periods, but also sometimes to supply water in periods of water shortage. The water levels in Dutch nature areas are often kept high throughout the year in order to preserve wet conditions. All this can have a significant impact on the entire hydrological system of a catchment, where groundwater and surface water are closely interlinked. A change in one of these systems can significantly affect the other.

The Drentsche Aa catchment in The Netherlands, is a designated Natura 2000 area. Agriculture is practiced on the adjacent higher-lying ground. A set of measures was drafted to achieve climate-proof solutions in the short term by reducing the effects of a drier climate on nature and agriculture. In order to check that these measures had no adverse effects, the Hunze and Aa’s Water Board investigated the feasibility of using groundwater for sprinkler irrigation in parts of the catchment. In the study, the SIMulation of GROundwater and surface water levels (SIMGRO) hydrological model was used in order to model future scenarios with different water level strategies and climate scenarios.

The modelling examined various measures in the nature and agricultural areas to optimise the hydrological situation for both land use functions. In addition, the effect on the nature areas of abstracting groundwater for irrigation was determined for buffer zones of different widths. The findings have indicated the policy direction to be taken by both the water board and the province, as well as offer them opportunities to deal with the requests for withdrawals in the near future by the means of future-proof general rules.

Keywords: buffer zones, climate change, Drentsche Aa, hydrological modelling, policy rules, strategy water management. 

You can access the full analysis here.