Eindhoven is not well armed against the extreme rainfall that the changing climate brings. That is what the water authority’s Erik de Ridder warns in response to the recent flooding in the region.
It was probably only a small appetiser of what is in store for us in the Netherlands in the coming years: flooded railway tunnels, flooded streets and cellars full of water. For the time being, the situation in Limburg did not occur in Eindhoven, but even the lighter rainfall showed that a city like Eindhoven has great difficulty in disposing of its excess water. The deluge of 4 June rendered almost all railway tunnels impassable in just one hour. Although a lot of time and money has been invested in improving drainage in recent years, there is no defence against this type of storm. “For a long time, we thought that extremes like this only occurred once every fifty years in our country”, Erik de Ridder, of the De Dommel Water Board, says. “But we have realised that this is going to happen much more often”.
The water board now has a number of controls that can be used to intervene early on when heavy rain is threatening. Weirs can be lowered so that the water can flow away more easily. The water authority can also open special water storage areas to temporarily drain excess water. But this is no way to deal with the sudden peak in water caused by the extreme rainfall in recent weeks. De Ridder: “Then you see that Eindhoven is still too ‘clogged up’ with stones and asphalt. The water simply cannot escape from here. If you want to prevent these tunnels from flooding, you will have to create more permeable areas where the water can drain away.”
Eindhoven should not try to arm itself against the future climate on its own. “The council, province and water board must tackle this together”, the water inspector says. “Because you can put your own affairs in order, but if neighbouring councils don’t, the problem will come back to you anyway”.
Translated by: Bob