The Netherlands is taking better care of storm and flood water

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The Netherlands is working with Council member IBM to transform flood control and the entire Dutch water system. The need is high. Of the total Dutch population, 66% live in flood-prone areas. More than 4,000 square miles (26% of the country) is below sea level.

The financial stakes are high as well. The ongoing cost to manage water, including anticipating flooding, droughts and low water levels is up to €7 billion each year and expected to increase €1- 2 billion by 2020. The project with IBM is expected to reduce costs by up to 15%.

The Rijkswaterstaat (the Dutch Ministry for Water), the local Water Authority Delfland, Deltares Science Institute and the University of Delft are working with IBM on the “Digital Delta” program. They will investigate how to integrate and analyze water data from a wide range of data sources, including precipitation measurements, water level and water quality monitors, levee sensors, radar data, model predictions as 
well as current and historic maintenance data from sluices, pumping stations, locks and dams. The initiative will provide water experts with a real-time intelligent dashboard. That dashboard will combine, process and visualize data from multiple organizations – data that today is kept in separate “silos.”

The new management system will address concerns ranging from the quality of drinking water, to the increasing frequency and impact of extreme weather-related events, to the risk of floods and droughts. By modeling weather events, the Netherlands will be able to determine the best course of action.

Digital Delta is a cloud-based system. “As flooding is an increasing problem in many regions of the world, we hope that the Digital Delta project can serve as a replicable solution for better water management anywhere in the world,” said Jan Hendrik Dronkers, director general of the Dutch water ministry.