Combat Erosion By Law Coastal Defence Policy for the Netherlands

M J Koster, R Hillen


In 1953 a flooding disaster occurred in the Netherlands with more than 1800 death casualties. It was decided that such a disaster may "never" happen again. A special committee was installed and advised upon a safety standard: water retaining structures (like dunes) must be able to withstand storms having a frequency of exceedance of only once in the ten-thousand years. This safety standard is, amongst others, based on economic optimization criteria.

The Dutch decided to formalize this safety standard by incorporating it into a law. Now, after forty years, this safety standard is finally met along the whole coast. The question arising now is, how can this safety standard be preserved? For the dutch, coastal defence is a matter of survival, and therefore it was decided again to let Government and Parliament make a choice. The decision made was to preserve the 1990 coastline. This decision, as well as specific tasks of Provincial authorities and waterboards is outlined in the oncoming Water Defence Bill.

In this paper some backgrounds are given on the coastal defence policy for the Netherlands. Coastal defence in the Netherlands is not only a State affair, and therefore the dutch combat erosion by law.


Control flooding; hazard; disaster; share protection; water defence.

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