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Towards facts in regional high-water projects : a comparative case study of the influence of authorities, stakeholders and uncertainties

Daamen, E. (2019) Towards facts in regional high-water projects : a comparative case study of the influence of authorities, stakeholders and uncertainties.

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Abstract:The Dutch flood risk policy has changed in recent years. Traditionally the focus of the Dutch water management is on preventative measures in the form of dikes and dams. In order to protect the Netherlands a large network of dikes has been constructed. Due to climate change the flood risk in the Netherlands will increase. More extreme weather is predicted with longer and more dry and wet periods. This will increase the risk of flooding. Since only measures aimed at flood prevention are not sufficient, is in 2009 the multilevel flood safety concept introduced in the Netherlands. This concept for the management of the flood risk is based on three strategies: prevention, spatial planning and crisis management. By applying different strategies, such as flood risk prevention, flood risk mitigation, flood preparation and flood recovery, urban areas become more resilient to flooding. Due to climate change many dikes in the Netherland need to be reinforced, since they do not meet the safety requirements. Since the reinforcement of dikes is expensive and sometimes difficult to implement often alternative measures are researched. Alternative measures that are often researched as an alternative for dike reinforcement are systemic measures. Systemic measures are flood risk mitigating measures that are aimed at reducing the likelihood and magnitude of floods and can complement flood defences. While decision-makers and policy makers often consider systemic measures, they eventually tend to decide in favour of dike reinforcement. The aim of this research is to provide insights into the steps that lead to decisions about systemic measures in regional-high water projects by analysing and comparing for two projects how facts are formed and how authorities, stakeholders and uncertainties play a role in the formation of these facts. For this research a case study is performed at regional water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta. Two projects are analysed: the Stadsdijken Zwolle project and the POV (Project Transcendent Exploration) System Development High Water Perspective Overijsselse Vecht (POV Vecht). In the Stadsdijken Zwolle project at the beginning only alternatives for dike reinforcement were researched. After it became apparent that the number of dikes that did not meet the safety requirements increased considerably due to new norms (2017), it was decided to investigate systemic measures as a possible solution. In the POV Vecht project the regional water authorities Vechtstromen and Drents Overijsselse Delta work together with the Province of Overijssel to research the effectivity of systemic measures in the basin of the Overijsselse Vecht. For both projects the generated solutions and alternatives were analysed. It is researched for what reasons solutions and alternatives were rejected or not analysed in more detail and how uncertainties played a role in the decision-making process. Besides this, it is examined which interactions took place with the responsible authorities and stakeholders during the decision-making process. Based on literature, three assumptions are made about the decision-making process that takes place: Firstly, decision-making processes are made up of small considerations and decisions. It seems that the decision for the most favourable solution is taken at the end of a decision-making process, but decisions are made in all steps of a decision-making process. Secondly, knowledge that is used for decision making is spread over various actors in a network. This knowledge can be conceptualised in three tracks: the track of image formation, the track of will formation and the track of fact formation. These three tracks contain respectively the images, perceptions and interpretations of actors; the ambitions, sources and means of power of actors; and all facts and research. Thirdly, uncertainties are inherent to water management and decision making. Policy makers often view uncertainties as a complicating factor and are unwilling to accept and embrace uncertainties in decision-making processes. The results show that in both projects a similar method was used for the formation of facts. First, all solutions were generated at the beginning of the project. During both projects no new solutions were generated. Second, for some solutions alternatives were generated, which are options of how a 7 solution could be realised. Then the promising alternatives were analysed quantitively. Both projects used extern engineering firms to analyse and model the effects of the alternatives. Based on these modelling outcomes, decisions were made to analyse solutions or alternatives in more detail or to choose the most favourable solution(s) or alternative(s). Authorities are mainly involved during the final decision for the most favourable solution. During the formation of facts, authorities are kept informed about the main results of the project. In both projects representatives of responsible authorities were only involved after the alternatives were analysed. Indirect, responsible authorities were involved in the project earlier, for example trough experts, policy advisors or civil servants who were involved earlier in the decision-making process. Stakeholders were mainly involved in order to get input on alternatives and to research the public support for certain systemic measures. In both projects stakeholders were not involved in the generation of solutions. One of the interesting findings of this research is that the responsible authorities and stakeholders can influence the formation of facts, without an actual interaction. Since, some of the interim decisions that are taken during the decision-making process are based on expectations of certain stakeholders or groups. With respect to the uncertainties, it was found that the uncertainties are not explicitly used as an argument for rejecting the solutions or alternatives or used as a substantiation for making certain decisions. However, implicitly uncertainties seem to play an important role in the interim decisions that were made. In both projects there seems to be a preference for systemic measures that can be realised within the district of WDODelta, on a small scale and have relatively low costs.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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