Case Study Rhine


The Rhine Catchment

From an economic point of view, the Rhine is the most important river of western Europe. The Rhine basin covers an area of about 185,000 km2, distributed between 9 countries. The Rhine is 72nd on the list of the world′s principal rivers with a length of 1,230 km. It is the only river connecting the Alps with the North Sea. Two thirds of its basin are situated in the Federal Republic of Germany. The Alpine countries, of which Switzerland is the most important, form 20% of the area. More than 50 million people live in the Rhine basin. The river is one of the world′s most intensively navigated inland waterways and of major importance for the supply of water to large socio-economically important areas. Changes in the discharge regime can have severe consequences for safety, for the water availability for shipping, industry, domestic use, agriculture, the natural environment and recreational purposes.

Leader Case study Rhine

Hendrik Buiteveld, RIZA, email: hendrik.buiteveld[at]

You are very welcome to contact the case study leaders for more information on the case study in the Rhine Basin.

The case study Rhine consists of four subcase studies:

International Rhine

The main research issue on the catchment scale will be investigation of the possibilities of integration of Water framework directive (WFD) with EU flood initiative (Flood management plan FMP) into one catchment management plan on the catchment scale.

For more information, please contact Hendrik Buiteveld, RIZA, email: hendrik.buiteveld[at]


This case is linked to the transboundary (international) German Dutch working group on flood protection. The main goal of this study is to investigate current cross-boundary cooperation on flood risk and drought adaptation strategies between Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Netherlands under climate change. The geographical focus is on the Niederrhein river basin and the Dutch Rhine Delta. The research will assess possible discontinuities in the fine-tuning process between both Rhine countries. The reseach done in Newater is strongly linked with the Dutch project ACER (see text box "Niederrhein regional case study").

For more information, please check here or contact Jeroen Arts ( email: jeroen.aerts[at] or Hendrik Buiteveld (email: hendrik.buiteveld[at]


The Wupper basin is located in Germany within the Rhine catchment area, the Wupper being a direct tributary to the Rhine. It is located in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia, which is characterised by a high density of population and industry. Since decades, the anthropogenic development of the region has influenced the rivers in their use and appearance. Rivers have been polluted and their flow was changed. Dams were constructed in order to provide the region with drinking water.

More information can be found here or by contacting Sabine Möllenkamp (email: contact[at]

Kromme Rijn

The Waterboard "Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden" ("HDSR") manages the water in the part of the Rhine-West subbasin. Part of its area is the catchment of the "Kromme Rijn" ("Curved" or "Bending" Rhine). The "Kromme Rijn used to be the main course of the Rhine flowing to the sea at Katwijk, until the Rhine found a new course to Rotterdam and the "Kromme Rijn" was even blocked from the Rhine completely. Water from the Rhine can be let in in the "Kromme Rijn". The "Kromme Rijn" now drains the water from the surrounding area which includes the sandy ridges of the "Utrechtse Heuvelrug", a glacial deposit with hills till 50 m. asl. The total catchment of the "Kromme Rijn" is approximately 35,000 ha.
The land use of the catchment is diverse: Woodland at the "Utrechtse Heuvelrug", with a drinking water extraction area, with a large nature reserve and several large estates and some villages. At the bottom of the "Heuvelrug" is a zone which use to be wet because of the seepage water from the "Heuvelrug", but is not so wet anymore because of the reduced seepage due to the drinking water extraction and the drainage of the fields which are largely used for pastures and some agriculture. In the bottom of the valley, there is agriculture, with an emphasis on horticulture.
Due to the proximity of the big city of Utrecht (300,000 inhabitants) and some smaller towns, there is a lot of recreation in the area: walking, cycling, and canoeing.
In the Water Framework Directive terminology, the "Kromme Rijn" is classified as R6: small flowing river on clay/sand. It is chosen as a WFD pilot of the R6 class for the Rhine West sub basin. This means that in 2006 objectives for the area will have to be determined and in 2007 preferential measures.

For more information, please contact Bouke Ottwo (email: bouke.ottow[at]

Involvement of WB 1 and 2 in the Rhine sub cases (Working packages involved in the Case study Rhine)

Working package Sub-case
WP1.1 Adaptive management regimes Wupper
WP1.2 Governance, institutions and participation Governance on whole Rhine; Participation on NiederRhein, Wupper
WP1.3 Transboundary regimes Niederrhein
WP1.4 Integration of IWRM and spatial planning Kromme Rijn
WP1.5 New Methods of Managing Buffering Capacity Whole Rhine
WP1.7 Methods for the transition to adaptive management Wupper and Kromme Rijn
WP2.2 Understanding the consequences of climate hazards and climate change Whole Rhine and Niederrhein
WP2.3 Resolving conflicts between water quantity, water quality and ecosystems Whole Rhine
WP2.5 Resilience and Adaptive Capacity of Complex Water Systems Wupper
WP2.6 Scenarios and future trends in driving forces for IWRM Whole Rhine and Niederrhein