Pilot Investment Steenbergsche Vliet
in The Netherlands
The Steenbergsche Vliet is part of the Mark and Vliet river system that forms a unique river landscape in the Southwest of The Netherlands. It is located in western part of the Province of Noord Brabant. The system constitutes a so-called Ecological Connection Zone between major national and international Nature2000 areas like the Volkerak-Zoommeer, the Biesbosch. The Waterboard Brabantse Delta has developed, in close cooperation with the communities, nature and farmer’s organizations, a master plan for the enhancement and management of the Mark and Vliet river system (Toekomst Visie Plus Mark en Vliet (2003)) with respect to nature development and flood damage prevention around the City of Breda. The plan covers an area of 2.000 ha. This includes the creation of facilities for water-oriented recreation and opportunities for restoring and conserving cultural heritage.
The Steenbergsche Vliet was in former times a tidal river being connected to the Oosterschelde estuary. However, following the flood of 1953 the connection with the sea was closed in 1983 and consequently tidal influence on the river Steenbergsche Vliet ended. Presently, dikes along the river protect the hinterland against floods up to a recurrence of once in a 50 years. Two developments make that flood prevention and water storage in this area require extra attention. Firstly, very high discharges of the Rhine and Maas River will be temporarily stored in the Volkerak-Zoommeer. Consequently, the water level will temporarily rise and block the discharge of the River Vliet into the Volkerak-Zoommeer. Secondly, the National Water Agreement 2003 prescribes an increased level of flood protection for urban areas with a recurrence interval of at least once in a 100 years. For the Steenbergsche Vliet this refers to the towns of Steenbergen and Roosendaal.
The approach for the Steenbergsche Vliet was to develop and implement the plan through an open planning process. This requires a flexible and interactive modelling, design and implementation of the plan. The development and implementation is done in close cooperation with local communities, nature organizations, farmers and other users of the area. The process also included several agreements on the future management of the lands. The development and implementation of the plan took place in the period January 2004 until November 2008 when the aconstruction works were completed. The total costs for this project was approximately €1.000.000,-.
The Waterboard Brabantse Delta achieved in this way three examples of water storage along the Steenbergsche Vliet – the Vlietdijk project, the Polder Benedensas and the reconstruction of the Fort Henricus. These include several types of natural riverbanks with reed, groves, floodplain grasslands and marsh vegetation. The total area restored is about 16 ha. So far, the development has been already realized over a length of 10 km. Nowadays potential flood damage has decreased because farmland was transformed into nature.
The Mark and Vliet river system has its source in Belgium. The new approach is presented as a pilot project which also could be implemented in Belgium leading to an improvement of flood control development and the development of ecological values through an open planning process and multi-functional land use.