Are extreme weather conditions becoming the new normal?

19th Water Republic Meeting: ‘Code Red’

Are extreme weather conditions becoming the new normal? How can cities arm themselves against these conditions? What solutions are there and what can cities learn from them? These questions were in the spotlight on 9 September during the 19th Water Republic meeting held in Pakhuis de Zwijger, an event co-organised by Waternet.

The discussions over the course of the meeting, which was named ‘Code Red’ (Code Rood), concerned extreme weather conditions caused by climate change, such as extreme heat, drought and rainfall, but also the impact of these changes on cities. These issues are highly relevant for KWR. Drinking water utilities face lots of problems with persistent drought and lowering groundwater-table levels, but at the same time climate change is also actually causing extreme rainfall and rising sea levels.

Examples to be learned from

KWR works on developing knowledge about and strategies for a resilient urban water cycle. These include solutions like blue-green roofs to reduce heat and capture water, or a new kind of water main to prevent wastewater from flowing onto the streets during heavy rainfalls. KWR is also part of the European POWER project, which includes an examination of best practices for cities in addressing the consequences of climate change. The subject of the evening’s discussion dovetailed well with this, covering the examples of several cities, such as Rotterdam, which other cities can learn from.

Presentations and interviews

The evening consisted of short presentations and interviews with several experts. For example, the Coordinator of Climate Adaptation of the City of Amsterdam, and Waternet’s Programme Director for Climate Adaptation, were asked to give their vision of Amsterdam’s current climate policy. They talked about the solutions they’re working on, what they see as the biggest challenges, and what the key questions are at this moment.

This was followed by a presentation by Arnoud Molenaar, Rotterdam’s Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). Molenaar talked about Rotterdam’s long history, life in a delta below sea level, and the water- and climate-related challenges this entails. He showed what Rotterdam was currently working on, how the city learns from other cities, and how it gets its residents involved. Presentations were then made by different market players on measures, such as blue-green solutions, to reduce urban heat stress. In closing, a Deltares groundwater expert took a variety of questions from the floor.