water security + climate change

A future-proof Heuvelrug, Gooi and Vecht region

Looking at the great challenges of our time, we are on the doorstep of a new transition period, as has occurred many times in history. There is no single, all-encompassing solution to achieve a future-proof Heuvelrug, Gooi and Vecht region. However, a clear direction does emerge from our design research: to make the area less dependent on the principal water system, to increase the availability of water from within the same region, and to better match the spatial layout and functions in the area to the natural characteristics of the soil and water system.


Due to the combination of adaptations in the landscape from a social engineering viewpoint, climate change, subsidence and urbanization, the water and soil system in the area have reached their limits. Land use and the associated spatial layout do often not correspond to the subterranean structure and the natural water system. As a result, major problems in water quantity and water quality occur that affect nature, agriculture, urban functions and drinking water supply. H+N+S Landscape Architects and HydroLogic were asked to give an insight into the current water and soil system and its interaction with the spatial layout and functions of the Heuvelrug, Gooi and Vecht region and to provide an action plan for a sustainable future.

Schematic cross section showing the subterranean flows from Het Gooi to the area of the Vechtplassen during 800 AD and the current situation. Based on Van Loon et al., 2009 and insights from groundwater studies.
Addressing problems at their source, with systemic solutions


Based on the study, five main principles have been formulated that will lead to a future-proof landscape:

  1. A systems approach to increased self-sufficiency and seepage restoration;
  2. Water and soil system at the basis of sustainable interaction between landscape functions;
  3. Technical measures to support the water and soil system;
  4. Focus on diverse water sources, innovation and water saving to continue to meet drinking water demand;
  5. Do not pass on and focus on continuity of policy.

Based on these principles long-term perspectives for the different areas within the Heuvelrug, Gooi and Vecht region are presented.

Prospects for the different areas of the Heuvelrug, Gooi and Vecht region.

The final action plan consists of a diagram showing different building blocks for each area that contribute to a future-proof landscape for the short, medium and long term. The diagram gives an indication of the effectiveness of different measures. A distinction is made in the type of measure: technical optimization, collaborating with natural conditions and radical transitions within complex area planning processes. The most effective building blocks have a solid framework, are usually resulting in far-reaching transitions and are placed within a long-term time frame.

Action plan with building blocks for each area for the short, medium and long term and insight into their effectiveness.


In an iterative process of spatial design and hydrological research, the systems, functions and challenges in the area were examined, and possible solutions were explored. Already existing information was gratefully used. Additional hydrological research took place in close cooperation with specialists from Waternet. Interviews with experts were also conducted. In four multidisciplinary working sessions, a broad group of specialists, stakeholders and policy staff was involved, with the topics being:

  1. Reflecting on the systems, functions and challenges in the area, identifying possible solutions;
  2. Formulating visions for the future (2100) from different perspectives;
  3. Assessment of the visions for the future in terms of their effectiveness and impact;
  4. Formulating action plans for the short, medium and long term.

By projecting extremes toward the year 2100, we explored a broad range of possible solutions in four different scenarios. These scenarios were based on two axes: ‘water and soil system’ and ‘land use’ as two extremes, and ‘conservation’ and ‘development’ as the two other extremes. Then appropriate building blocks were assigned. 'Critical System Indicators' were used to intersubjectively assess the effectiveness and impact of the possible futures.

  1. Reference situation: business as usual;
  2. Technical Specialized Regulation: facilitating current functions by continuing to implement customization and technical solutions;
  3. Natural Variation: working toward a more self-sufficient system through natural water management and implementing necessary function change and adaptation;
  4. Integral Reorganization: using major technical interventions in combination with strengthening the natural system.


This study is a first step toward a future-proof, adaptive landscape. The collaborative, integral approach will have to be continued to take subsequent steps. The involvement of governments, drinking water companies, LTOs, TBOs and residents is important. All parties must arrive at a common perception of the problem and a shared direction for a solution together. This document offers tools for this. The area planning process within the PPLG is an important instrument to involve the various social interests and to further detail the outcomes. The project reveals several necessary follow-up studies that can be worked on in the coming period.