H2b) Floodplain management and valorisation

Astrid Bout

"Exploring ways in which public-private partnerships can ensure a more cost-efficient maintenance of the river floodplain while still complying with the societal needs"

Practical motivation

Over the past decades Dutch river management has become quite dynamic and complex. On the one hand projects like Room for the River and the European Water Framework Directive made the river system more natural and dynamic. On the other hand, there are fierce organizational challenges with an ever growing pressure to become more efficient, market oriented, transparent and collaborative.

Societal stakeholders in river management. (Source: Rijkswaterstaat beeldbank)

All these developments urges organizations which are involved in river and floodplain management to explore new, creative pathways resulting in a management strategy that is based on public-private partnerships and a more cost-efficient maintenance program. This can be achieved by austerity and efficiency but also by finding ways to gain revenues from the river area with technical and social innovations and utilizing ecosystem services. We explore ways in which public-private partnerships can ensure a more cost-efficient maintenance of river floodplain while still complying with the societal needs.

Management phase: Evaluation & Adjustment |

Management goals: Coordination & cooperation | Feasibility & Sustainability | Maintenance Efficiency |

Research aim

This research focuses on the question how public parties can ensure that through private procurement of river maintenance the potential of the river area is utilized and managed optimal while still complying to their role as social player.

Temporal scale: Midterm evolution (10-50 years) | Recent evolution (1-10years) |


  • Policy review referring to the program Self Supporting River System (SSRS) in the Dutch Rhine delta. The SSRS program actively seeks different types of relationships and rules within the Water sector to address the societal challenges that are summarized by the increasing mismatch between the (present) static approach of river maintenance in a complex and dynamic environment.
  • Analysis of the current practice of biomass utilization in river management regarding the organisations ambitions and conditions in collaboration with the H2) Riverine Biomass project.
  • Case study research of one of the main projects of the SSRS program which is about “Learning space IJsseldelta- Twentekanalen”. This case-study will be done by preforming a thought-experiment and game simulation. Focus is on market orientation, risk-sharing, public-private partnerships, innovation.

Data-collection methods: Focus groups | Interviews | Policy analysis |

Main progress and next steps

  • First insights on the Self Supporting River System (SSRS) program highlight the main goal of making and keeping the river management affordable, reliable and sustainable in a socially desirable way. The financial ambition of SSRS is a 40% cut on their spending on river maintenance by 2021 (Rijkswaterstaat, 2011).
  • The starting point of the Learning Space is to offer possibilities to cooperate on an equal level in the golden triangle of businesses, researchers and government. This way cooperation could facilitate the proposing and the joint development of innovative ideas.

Study areas

Key study areas: Ijssel river (The Netherlands) | Nederrijn-Lek river (The Netherlands) | Waal river (The Netherlands)

Last modified: 17/06/2018

Main researcher

Astrid Bout

Supervisory team

Prof.dr. Toine Smits


Prof. dr. Erwin van der Krabben


Contributing partners

Rijkswaterstaat Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management

Gelderland Province

ARCADIS Nederland BV


Radboud University Nijmegen

Utrecht University

University of Twente

NWO Applied and Engineering Sciences

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Project group
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Contact details

Astrid Bout

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