DWA Network Day

On November 27, Dutch Water Authorities (DWA) organised the DWA Network Day in Driebergen, with the central theme 'Water Knows No Boundaries.'

DWA Network Day

DWA coordinator Piebe Hoeksma opened the day with a plenary conversation with Luzette Kroon, board member of the Association of DWA. After a presentation by former Chief of the Defence Staff Tom Middendorp and the presentation of the NWB Award, there were theme sessions on the 4 main DWA themes: knowledge exchange, Europe, international projects/Blue Deal, and attractive employment. Approximately 120 employees, administrators, and foreign coordinators from within and outside the water authorities were present.

Importance of International Cooperation

“The water authorities are the least known government entities, but they enjoy the greatest trust,” Kroon opens her conversation. “80 percent of the Dutch trust that the water authorities keep our country, which is partly below sea level, dry. With Bureau Brussels, our representation in Europe, we also have a significant influence on Brussels policy. The international community is eager to learn from us. But we also face significant challenges, such as long periods of drought, extreme rainfall, and water pollution. These challenges are global: climate change is here, and it pays no attention to national borders. That’s why international cooperation is crucial, especially in the field of climate adaptation.”

Water at the Core of Sustainable Development Goals

Kroon is pleased that this year saw the first United Nations water conference. “This demonstrates that both the subject of water and international cooperation are high on the administrative agendas. The question now is: how do we ensure that this remains the case? I believe by continuing to emphasize the urgency. The Sustainable Development Goals mean nothing without water. International work also has significant added value for the water authorities it makes us more attractive as an employer.”

Water, Both Friend and Foe

The second keynote speaker has an impressive curriculum vitae: Tom Middendorp led the army for 38 years, was the first to put the climate on the agenda at Defence, and wrote the book Climate General, translated into five languages. “In the Netherlands, water is both our greatest friend and enemy at the same time,” he states in his presentation. “The economy owes much to our favourable location near water. At the same time, water is our greatest threat. Adaptation is in our genes due to these extremes.”

Reducing Water Dependency

Middendorp emphasizes our increasing dependence on water. “Look at production: a sheet of A4 paper requires a whopping 10 liters of water, and a T-shirt requires 4000 liters. And the demand for water continues to grow, partly due to population growth and our living standards. At the same time, water supply is decreasing due to increasingly longer periods of drought. We must reduce our water footprint and dependence on water through circularity: better reuse.”

Tensions Due to (Water) Scarcity

During his work abroad, Middendorp saw how scarcity of essential resources causes tensions between population groups. “Water scarcity causes conflicts and forces people to move. Through this phenomenon, I saw the connection between climate and security. Because climate change is closely related to water: to food shortages and the livability of areas. At Defense, I therefore put climate on the agenda and linked it to security.”

Giving Room to Innovation

“To resist increasingly extreme weather, we must collaborate,” says Middendorp. “We must give room to innovation, create a knowledge ecosystem, and collaborate across borders. The solution to these new water challenges lies in our innovation and adaptability.”

NWB Award 2023

The morning programme concluded with the presentation of the NWB Award 2023, the prize for the most compelling video about international water authorities work. After showing the shortlist, Luzette Kroon, as chair of the NWB Fund, announced the winner: ‘A strategic alliance for water conservation in the Chira Valley’ from Blue Deal Peru. They win €5000 for further research and an interview in Het Waterschap, the magazine of the Association of DWA. Kroon: “The videos provide a good insight into our work and show how many people are involved in international water authorities projects.”

Watch the video submissions for the NWB Award

Theme Sessions: Knowledge Sharing and Europe After the lunch break and networking opportunities, there were two rounds of theme sessions on the agenda. In each round, participants could join one of the four topics. In the Knowledge Sharing theme session, Petra Goessen, foreign coordinator at Dutch water authority Hollands Noorderkwartier, sought ideas for acquiring more knowledge from abroad. In the Europe theme session, Luc Kronenberg and Noa Hartog, lobbyists in Brussels on behalf of Vewin and the Association of DWA, explained what the Union does in Brussels and how the European Union operates.

Attractive Employment and International Projects

In the Attractive Employment theme session, Frank Tibben (intelligence manager at World Waternet) and Anne Maaike Koeneman (policy advisor international cooperation at Dutch water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta) showed why internationally oriented water experts choose water authorities as employers. In the Blue Deal/international projects theme session, Marion Wierda, programme manager at the NWB Fund, highlighted various international projects of the water authorities.

Blue Dragon Viet Nam

The final work visit with training week on Resilient Cities and the Blue Dragon Day took place on November 10.

Presentation screen and person behind lecturere

Training Week on resilient cities

The latest addition to the Blue Dragon programme is a new pool focusing on climate adaptation. In the inaugural week from 6 to 9 November, the pool concentrated on:

  • Explaining the importance of cooperation in climate-adaptive measures
  • Outlining the concept of climate adaptation
  • Describing the systematics of climate adaptation
  • Identifying the necessary data collection from a given area

The training was conducted by Mrs. Anet Lablans and Ms. Denise Winters both from water authority Hollands Noorderkwartier. The usual field trip during the week was spent in the city of Rach Gia. The participants were requested to photograph locations where flooding during heavy rainfall may occur.

The first Blue Dragon Day

In the morning of Friday 10th November at the meeting hall of the Research Laboratories Complex (RLC) Building, Can Tho University, the Blue Dragon Programme and Can Tho University organised the first Blue Dragon Day. This event, a highlight of the Blue Dragon Programme, revolves around the “Partnership for long-term assistance of Dutch Water Authorities in Mekong Delta Vietnam”.

We had the honor of welcoming distinguished delegates:

  • Mr. Willem Timmerman, First Secretary, The Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam
  • Mr. Vương Viết Hưng, Vice Director of Integrated Climate Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Mekong Delta Project Management Board, Central Project Office (CPO), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Mr. Dang Ngoc Giao, Vice Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Hau Giang
  • Prof. Dr. Tran Ngoc Hai, Vice Rector of Can Tho University
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Van Pham Dang Tri, Director of DRAGON-Mekong Institute, Can Tho University

Other delegates were several lecturers and students of Can Tho University and representatives from Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Departments of Construction, and Departments of Planning and Investment from provinces in the Mekong Delta.

The Delegates of Blue Dragon Day

The meeting provided a valuable opportunity for our partners to share their activities and experiences during Phase 1. Plans for Phase 2 were presented and discussed, including the expansion of the programme to other provinces in the Mekong Delta. Dynamic discussion sessions yielded valuable insights for Phase 2, and intent for cooperation was received from a new provinces of the Mekong Delta.

First trainings in Indonesia are a fact

The period from the end of October until the beginning of December, 3 different Dutch Water Authorities teams visited the 3 regions on the island of Java, Indonesia, where the Blue Deal is active.

training Indonesia

Pekalongan 23 until 27 October 2023

A team of 5 visited Pekalongan in the week of October 23 to 27. The activities consisted of providing training on the subject of wastewater treatment and operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment plants. An advisory report has been prepared for scenarios for improvement of two existing wastewater treatment plants for batik wastewater of the kota (city) and 2 in the kabupaten (regency) of Pekalongan. A visit from a specialist will follow at the beginning of December for a further exploration of Nature Based solutions (NbS) in the form of helophyte filters for the purification of batik wastewater.

The new DWA project leader has been involved in local water management issues. For a number of important sub-areas bordering the city, further exploration has been carried out into how to make these areas as a whole climate-robust and how the management of assets, such as flood defenses and pumping stations will play an important role in these. This will be further taken seriously in 2024.

Semarang 6 untill 10 november 2023

In 2023, the DWA team for the area of Semarang has undertaken two work visits. In both of the visits the team was generously welcomed at the offices of the municipality and Public Works of Semarang.

During the 1st work visit we had the opportunity to meet key stakeholders active in the Banger Polder area. We received insight in the workings of the control room that surprisingly showed an impressive overview of CCTV camera locations across the city of Semarang. Traffic jams in Semarang are often caused by flooding of the roads during the rainy season. They use the CCTV cameras also for monitoring of the occurrence of floods due to a lack of water level measuring points in the city.

In the second work visit four pumping station operational teams (UPTDs) presented their findings on how to improve the operation and maintenance (O&M) of pumping stations. We concluded with the aim to further work on (updated) Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s). This will be the focus of our next DWA work visit in March 2024!

Tangerang 27 November until 1 December

Staying calm under Climate pressure; this was the challenge during our recent visit to our partners in Kabupaten Tangerang in Java Indonesia. Our arrival late November coincided with the arrival of the rain season after an unusual long dry period. Where the dry period is currently not the focus of our Blue Deal partnership, it was clear that this had presented our counterparts with many challenges on water distribution. However the lack of water was soon replaced by an excess of water.

In a rapidly urbanizing and developing regency just West of Jakarta, with an area ¼ the size of The Netherlands and more than 2 million inhabitants, the water related challenges are abundant. For more focus and clear explanation of water issues, 2 defined pilot projects have been selected to start working on towards sustainable integrated water management. In one of those areas we support the partner in design and planning of a retention basin to prevent flooding in a low lying residential area. The recent and second visit to this area, a training on the basics of flood control and retention basins was performed; the pilot area was hit by the worst floods it had ever seen; caused by very heavy rainfall. The flood reached high water levels and flow velocities within 2 hours of rainfall and the water had mostly disappeared again within the next 3 hours indicating a lot of hardened surface upstream. Luckily nobody was hurt but the event put an immediate focus and motivation on our project.