Most of NWB Bank's equity is owned by water authorties (81%). Water authorities are represented by the Dutch Association of Regional Water Authorities, the umbrella organisation of the 23 regional water authorities in the Netherlands. Local and regional water management in the Netherlands is largely the responsibility of the regional water authorities, which are decentralised public authorities. Regional water authorities are responsible for flood control, water quantity, water quality and the treatment of urban wastewater. Regional water authorities are by law embedded in the general democratic structure. The tasks of the regional water authorities are embedded in the Dutch legislative system. Regional water authorities have their own democratic structures, legislation and financing structures. Regional water authorities are, to a large extent, financially independent. They have their own broad tax area.
In the Netherlands, the regional water authorities are responsible for managing our surface water. This is something they have been doing for centuries. In the 13th century, farmers and landowners in the low-lying areas of the Netherlands joined forces to control the water. Today, good water management involves much more than building dykes and windmills. Anticipating on climate change and on present and future demands require innovative solutions combining water management solutions to biodiversity and sustainability.
Adaption to climate change is an integrated part of our tasks. A large part of the future investments in flood control and in water management will be executed under the umbrella of the Dutch “Delta Plan” set up by the central Dutch government. Both heavier rainfall patterns as well as longer periods of drought are taken into consideration.
Regional water authorities build, inspect and maintain many thousands of kilometers of flood barriers - on the coastline, along rivers, canals, streams and waterways. They consult other authorities about suitable construction sites and harness new technology to reinforce existing flood barriers and thereby continue to guarantee sufficient levels of safety.
The OECD recently reviewed the Dutch water governance by mentioning the global reference and excellence in several areas, and suggesting issues to take on board on the water agenda . Regional water authorities are key players in this respect.
Facts and figures
• Flood protection: 18,100 km of dykes and levees (3,500 primary, 10,000 secondary)
• Integrated water resources management, irrigation and drainage: 225,000 km watercourses
• Treatment of urban wastewater: 353 plants, fully complying with European legislation.
• Investment volume: €1.3 billion, of which 34% flood protection infrastructure, 32% water systems, 26% wastewater treatment and 8% other investments
Current issues and challenges in terms of sustainability and biodiversity
Combining water interests interest in spatial planning and operational management with sus-tainable cities, biodiversity (Natura 200), in a wide range of projects all over the country.
Future oriented treatment of wastewater, by converting waste into clean, raw materials, clean energy and clean water, based on the “cradle to cradle “ concept.
Checks and balances, supervision
• Since the DWA are public entities, the financial and technical plans, as well as the annual reports are public available.
• The DWA are by law supervised by the Dutch provinces and regulated by both national and European legislation. Every 6 years a Water management plan is made, in which the progress of the ongoing works is reported.
• Regarding water quality (a prerequisite for biodiversity) the water management reports are combined in the so called River Basin Management Plans, and reported to the European Commission (according to the Water Framework Directive).
• The progress and the status of the flood protection schemes is reported to parliament but is also subject to regulation by the Flood Directive.
• The investments and functioning of the waste water treatment plants are reported to the European Commission under the Urban Waste Water Directive.
• All investments and works commissioned by the DWA are subject to regulation by the Dutch law: for every imitative at least an environmental permit is necessary, for large works an environmental impact assessment is compulsory.