Room for the River Waal – Nijmegen

By Kelly, Environmental Studies; Sophomore

Bridge over the River Waal at the Room for the River project site. Photo by Kelly.

Today our bike travels led us through the woods out of Apeldoorn and onto the dikes of Nijmegen. Along the way we visited a small fruit stand which offered an apple cherry drink (lekker!) and stopped to make friends with some “paarden.” Before meeting our host Andrea, we had the opportunity to try another Dutch food called bitterballen.  Then Andrea arrived and brought us to the dike between the River Waal and the new area of water created to withstand potential flooding of Nijmegen. The Room for the River Waal project began in 1995 after flood threats in previous years showed the potential to inundate the area surrounding the river in a matter of 20 minutes. The solution involved displacing some local residents to create an adjacent waterway and floodplain to give the water room to spread with reduced damage to surrounding areas.  They were met initially with great opposition, but is now viewed as a success and critical part of Nijmegen’s landscape.  In some places, the walls have holes at varying heights to allow water to move freely, and along the sides there are 20 meter deep screens to protect local residential areas from being affected by seepage. The island in between the two water elements is the site of beaches, bridges, animal habitats, and other buildings.  After our tour, we enjoyed dinner in central Nijmegen while watching a biking race and walked around a local park. The park had an awesome tower, birds, deer, goats, and peacocks. Today in Nijmegen was definitely my favorite day so far!

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