Dutch Water Authorities is the international organisation of the regional water authorities in the Netherlands and their association, the ‘Unie van Waterschappen’. Its goal is to use its unique expertise to tackle water issues worldwide.

Large excavators placing concrete blocks on a dyke at the edge of water in the Netherlands..
Dyke reinforcement project in the Netherlands. Image: Henri Cormont

Around 26% of the Netherlands lies below sea level. As much as 55% of the country is vulnerable to flooding. Enormous efforts have to be made to keep this low-lying delta area a safe place to live in, and to ensure that there is sufficient clean water. Because of this, for centuries there have been organisations in the Netherlands exclusively dedicated to water management: the regional water authorities.

21 Dutch Water Authorities

The first Dutch regional water authority was set up in the 13th century. Nowadays there are 21 regional water authorities in the Netherlands, jointly employing around 11.000 people. The regional water authorities’ work centres on flood protection, water quality management and preventing droughts or water surpluses. For example by managing and maintaining dikes, treating wastewater and regulating water levels.

Regional water authority employee performing maintenance at a weir in the Netherlands.
Maintenance work to a weir in the Netherlands. Image: Henri Cormont

Global cooperation on water challenges, now and in the future

The Dutch have lived with water for centuries. We have grown used to having sufficient, clean and safe water resources – so much so that other countries are keen to learn more about our water management and our regional water authorities. But water is now becoming more of an issue, and not least because of the effects of climate change. Drought, extreme precipitation and water pollution present major challenges, not only in the Netherlands and Europe, but throughout the world.

Round waste water treatment tanks seen from above.
Wastewater treatment plant near the city of Amersfoort. Image: Bart van Vliet

Finding solutions

As Dutch Water Authorities we believe that together we are better at finding solutions. By learning from each other’s knowledge and experience we do not have to reinvent the wheel and we offer our employees the opportunity to learn from their international colleagues. And in the process we grow our expertise and improve water management in the Netherlands, Europe and elsewhere. We also support our foreign partners with our water expertise, especially in the Blue Deal programme. Together we are better prepared to take on future water challenges and ensure worldwide access to sufficient clean and safe water.


Europe occupies a pivotal place in our international network of valued knowledge partners. We look to our European partners more often, especially to acquire expertise and cooperate on the challenges we face at home.

read more about the blue deal