The water comes

Last few summers the Dutch news was filled with messages on droughts, low ground water levels and even dried up river transport routes. However this summer so far is the opposite; recent downpours in the south of the country and neighbouring areas in Belgium, Luxemburg, France and Germany are causing devastating damage on human lives and properties. The water levels of the Maas and Rhine are exceptionally high for this time of the year. Last night the water reached Maastricht at a peak of 3260 m3/s, the highest river discharge since the start of measuring in 1911.

The Netherlands is world famous for its historical battle with water and our well build dikes. This knowledge of water management is one of the country’s largest exports, WUR plays a large role in this. But not even the Dutch dikes are capable of keeping such amounts of water out. Just hours ago part of a dike near Meerssen, Limburg collapsed and water is flowing into the underlying areas. Luckily Wageningen has nothing to fear from the Maas. However, our beloved Rhine, home of the beaches we frequently visit on hot days, is being filled by this extreme rainfall too.

Exceptional summer high water levels are expected in the coming few days. The peak will reach Lobith, where the Rhine enters the Netherlands, on Sunday or Monday with over 7000 m3/s. Shortly after this water will reach Arnhem and also Wageningen. The Wageningen floodplains are expected to open soon to retain some of the river water to protect downstream areas. Fences are put in place to close the Veerweg in case the water reaches the road. Not long ago in February we experienced the joys of high water levels in combination with freezing temperatures. However, summer water levels like this have not occurred since the 80’s, but might become more common due to climate change.

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