The picture and results of the integrated water policy between 2014 and 2019 are mostly positive. This was announced by Minister Barbara Visser after an investigation by Twynstra Good, Desisio and Soiko. An important note is that objectives are not always sufficiently concrete and there is often a lack of clear quantification.
The study conducted by the three offices aims to identify the effectiveness and efficiency of the policy of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management in the areas of flood risk management, water quality and fresh water supply from 2014 to 2019. This policy cost a total of 5.3 billion euros. So far the largest amount has gone to flood risk management: 4.75 billion euros.
Improvement through an administrative agreement on water
Last week, outgoing Secretary of State Barbara Visser sent a letter to the House of Representatives about the findings of the investigation. According to her, a policy review provides a mostly positive picture of the policy and the results achieved with it. For example, the researchers note in their report that the Water Administrative Agreement between the central government and local authorities in 2011 led to improved administrative organization and water policy tools. Objectives were also largely achieved in the HWBP-2, Room for the River and Maaswerken programmes.
Visser writes the following on the topic: “The researchers note that there are well-organized and concrete action plans within the integrated water policy that ensure effective implementation. The tools under the Delta Act work very well in tandem, providing water management with a solid foundation.”
Researchers from TwynstraGudde, Decisio and Sweco did not have enough information to make statements on about 10 percent of the expenditures, because policy evaluations or other relevant documents were missing. This mainly relates to spending on policy preparation studies for new major programs and contributions to third parties.
In her message, the Minister said: “The picture of effectiveness and efficiency is fundamentally positive, particularly in the area of flood risk management. It is true that firm conclusions cannot be drawn on the basis of policy evaluations that have been made, but basic documents and final reports from a number of large programs such as Room for the River and Maaswerken make this conclusion plausible.”
The goals are sometimes not very quantitative
The researchers found that various recommendations from previous policy reviews were not followed up. For example, there is a lack of concrete indicators in the sub-areas of water policy and the targets are still not very quantitative. According to the minister, since the last review, the focus has been on a way to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of flood risk management projects. This was used in the current study.
Minister Visser concludes her letter by referring to extreme weather phenomena. “Recent examples, such as the drought in recent years, and the floods in Limburg last summer with far-reaching consequences for the people and companies involved, underscore to me the importance of a well-founded, effective water policy whose efficiency and the extent of the financial resources needed is clear.” She wants to regularly exchange ideas with the House of Representatives on the strategic assessment agenda on how to better shape water policy in the future.