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Delft University of Technology

Room for Rivers: Perspectives on River Basin Management

Delft University of Technology via edX


With a long history of disasters and years of dealing with the challenges posed by water, the Netherlands has accumulated essential knowledge about water management and specifically of rivers. This course will share with you this knowledge gleaned over more than a decade under the Dutch government’s “Room for the River” program, started in 2007. The goal of this program was to manage higher water levels in rivers, while restoring the river’s natural flood plain in places where it is least harmful in order to protect those areas that need protection. All this in the context of the changing characteristics of rivers in times of climate change.

While the practical experience gained from this program is derived from cases in the Netherlands, it also applies to other countries that build their social, ecological and economic prosperity on what rivers bring them. It will be most beneficial for water managers, river engineers, landscape designers and policy makers who seek more knowledge surrounding analysis, design and development of river and delta solutions.

The specific skills gained in this course are in the design of engineering interventions; stakeholder analysis and balancing economic benefits with safe living conditions, ecological quality and attractive landscapes. You will also understand the impact of climate change and will be introduced to approaches to deal with the long-term dynamics and uncertainties that rivers bring.

We offer you the opportunity to learn from our experiences and apply it on your own river and we also aim to learn from you. The course is structured as an exchange, with a strong focus on analysis and design.


Module 1 - Introduction: the river as persona
Scale: Watershed
(Inter)Disciplinary perspective: integrated problem focus

Module 2 - A water safety issue?
Scale: From watershed to project scales
Disciplinary perspective: Hydraulic Engineering

Module 3 - A governance issue?
Scale: Project scale (problem area)
Disciplinary perspective: governance

Module 4 - A spatial quality issue?
Scale: Project scale (problem area)
Disciplinary perspective: spatial design

Module 5 - Room for rivers: an integrated approach
Scale: Watershed
(Inter)Disciplinary perspective: program architecture

Taught by

Jos Timmermans and Dirk Sijmons


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