Hydrology and hydraulics expertise in participatory processes for climate change adaptation in the Dutch meuse

A. Wesselink, Huib J. de Vriend, Hermjan Barneveld, Martinus S. Krol, Wiebe Bijker

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21 Citations (Scopus)
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Many scientists feel that scientific outcomes are not sufficiently taken into account in policy-making. The research reported in this paper shows what happens with scientific information during such a process. In 2001 the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management commissioned their regional office in Limburg to assess how flood management objectives can be achieved in future in the Dutch Meuse valley, assuming climate change will increase peak discharges. To ensure political support, regional discussion rounds were to help assess the measures previously identified. This paper discusses the ways in which hydrological and hydraulic expertise was input, understood and used in this assessment process. Project participants as a group had no trouble contesting assumptions and outcomes. Nevertheless, water expertise was generally accepted as providing facts, once basic choices such as starting situation had been discussed and agreed. The technical constraints determined that politically unacceptable measures would have to be selected to achieve the legally binding flood management objective. As a result, no additional space will be set aside for future flood management beyond the already reserved floodplain. In this case, political arguments clearly prevail over policy objectives, with hydraulic expertise providing decisive arbitration between the two.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-595
Number of pages13
JournalWater science and technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Climate change adaptation
  • Flood management
  • Meuse River
  • IR-73555
  • hydraulic model
  • METIS-259177
  • design discharge


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