Retention of Rhine water in the Rijnstrangen to mitigate drought

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Over the last years the Netherlands has often had to deal with droughts and water shortages during summer. This problem is caused by long periods without rain but with high evaporation rates and is enhanced by groundwater extraction for drinking water. Due to climate change, these droughts are expected to occur more often and become more severe. A possible strategy to mitigate drought in the eastern part of the Netherlands is to scale down the groundwater extraction, thereby limiting the groundwater depletion. In this case however, an alternative drinking water source has to be created. This research explores the option to use the former river bed of the Rhine near the Dutch-German border, the Rijnstrangen, to create this alternative drinking water source, answering the following question: How can retention of Rhine water in the Rijnstrangen contribute to drought mitigation in the eastern part of the Netherlands?

With this study, it is shown that the Rijnstrangen realistically can contribute up to 100 Mm3/y to the drinking water production in its region. This is up to 75% of the drinking water production of the Dutch province Gelderland, in which the Rijnstrangen is located. The exact maximum extraction volume from the Rijnstrangen depends on policy choices such as the maximum accepted water level in the Rijnstrangen and the maximum accepted average extraction from the region around the Rijnstrangen.

From a water quantity point of view, the maximum extraction volume of up to 100 Mm3/y indicates that utilizing the Rijnstrangen as a retention reservoir is a promising option to contribute to drought mitigation in the eastern part of the Netherlands. Therefore, further investigation of this idea is relevant.