Engineering with nature to ensure biodiversity and thus self-cleaning capacity
Engineering has brought huge benefits to humankind. However, awareness has grown of the limitations of relying only on hard engineering when it comes to managing water resources and protecting the water environment.
The Netherlands is an international leader on integrating hard engineering within a broader approach that works with nature to provide flood protection. It exports this expertise to help others build resilience to climate change. Dutch expertise in engineering with nature also protects water resources, including benefiting the quality of these resources, ensuring they are available for human use. For example, stormwater detention ponds can be designed so that they release water to help preserve flows to support ecological quality. Also, poorly designed outfall structures can erode habitats, increasing the suspended solids transported downstream. In both cases, ensuring the integrity of the environment also helps sustain its self-cleaning capacity. Dutch expertise extends also to the use of reedbeds and natural filtration systems, which can help prevent release of contaminants such as micropollutants to the wider environment.