The Dutch water sector is well known worldwide for its innovative water projects. It has always been one of NWP’s core activities to facilitate expansion abroad and to promote the Dutch water sector internationally. However, also within the Netherlands there is a lot to learn from each other’s experience and expertise. For this reason, NWP was delighted to organise the first Dutch site visit tour which took place in September 2021. For one week, NWP brought together a select group of NWP members to visit various project-sites related to their own work or expertise.
NWP kicked off the tour at the Living Lab Schouwen-Duiveland, Zeeland, which is an innovative island for strong and flexible delta development. Governments, knowledge institutions, agricultural organisations and entrepreneurs join forces here by pioneering experiments together to address solutions for urgent issues such as the increasing lack of fresh water. During this insightful day we learned about the work of HZ University of Applied Sciences and Dutch Seaweed Group on seaweed and algae cultivation, fresh, saline, and salty crops and freshwater supplies for agriculture on land. The second day of the tour took us on a field trip to an iconic landmark of the Netherlands for flood protection: The Afsluitdijk. Swiss Re and Boskalis presented their work on Markerwadden and climate adaptation insurance. Rijkswaterstaat presented their dike reinforcement plans and members had the opportunity to visit the site.
During the third day of the NWP-tour we visited Gemeente Zwolle: a climate-resilient, green, liveable city with its own adaptation strategy. Among its various strategies, Zwolle aims to increase the city’s sponge effect through green roofs, rain barrels, rain gardens, and rainproof streets. The sponge effect will reduce damage caused by severe downpours and boost the water retention capacity during periods of drought. Our second visit on the third day was to The Green Village: a testing ground for sustainable innovation on the TU Delft campus. Researchers and entrepreneurs, in close collaboration with government and public bodies, build, research, test and demonstrate their experimental sustainable innovations for urban, work and living spaces. An inspirational environment for new innovations in the water sector!
On the fourth day of the NWP Tour we visited the Nereda treatment plant in Utrecht of Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden. This new sewage treatment installation takes over the work of the old plant. The new purification tanks work with state-of-the-art Nereda®️ technology, developed by Royal HaskoningDHV. Every day the plant purifies about 65 million litres of wastewater. The new sewage treatment plant consumes less energy, takes up less space, spreads less odor, can purify more water and supplies cleaner water. For the fifth day of the NWP-tour we travelled to Texel to visit the Fresh Future Texel project by Acacia Water. Texel is dependent on rainwater and drinking water from the mainland for its freshwater supply. However, Texel's farmers have long desired to make the island self-sufficient when it comes to fresh water. Therefore, together with the Acacia Institute and LTO Noord, the farmers took the initiative and developed the project 'Fresh Future Texel'. The project 'Fresh Future Texel' is taking place for the next three years at two test locations, with the aim to gauge if rainwater can be deposited underground, to be used in dry periods for the irrigation of 50 to 100 hectares of fields.
The last day of the Tour we visited the dyke reinforcement of Gameren. This is part of the Flood Protection Programme in which the water board and Rijkswaterstaat work together. Here, Waterschap Rivierenland has opted for an innovative way of combating piping: the coarse sand barrier. A trench with coarse sand is made at the transition between the clay layer and the sandy subsoil. This replaces the original, finer sand. The coarse sand acts as a filter that lets the water through and keeps the sand grains in place.
The first NWP-Tour was an eventful, informative and enjoyable week, as well as relevant and valuable to our members: NWP member Hajo Heusinkveld (Mobile Water Management) commented that the tour "is very useful to make good connections in the NWP network." Additionally, NWP member Jos Bonnemayer (Waterfocus) highlighted that the Tour enables members to "really see what is happening in the sector and you can respond to that". Many thanks to the organizers and members for making this first NWP tour such a success! We already look forward to organizing the next NWP Tour in 2022. Do you have a project/location in mind for the next edition of the tour? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.