Sharing Best Practices: Paula Verhoeven

Museumpark Rotterdam, an underground water storage facility with a capacity of 10 million litres (roughly 2.6 million gallons)

Museumpark Rotterdam, an underground water storage facility with a capacity of 10 million litres (roughly 2.6 million gallons)

In its aim to refocus the discussion of water/climate adaptation and mitigation to what’s being done by communities “on the ground,” the Forum is fortunate to have Paula Verhoeven on its program. Her long-time interest in climate-related issues, particularly in the area of water management, is reflected in her involvement and leadership in the many sustainability initiatives of the city of Rotterdam.

Verhoeven played a key role in the development of the first comprehensive Rotterdam Water Plan and built strong partnerships with industry and academia through the Rotterdam Climate Initiative.

So what is Rotterdam doing “on the ground” to mitigate and adapt to climate change?

  • One approach is water plazas that fill up in a controlled manner during heavy rainfall, preventing surrounding streets from flooding. The city’s Benthemplein Water Square opened in late 2013. The square retains water during peak rainfall and doubles as an urban public space. The lowered areas designed to retain water can be repurposed for sports and recreational use during dry weather.
  • To integrate water storage with the urban environment, Rotterdam actively encourages the installation of green roofs that absorb precipitation, reducing both the speed of rainwater runoff and pressure on the sewerage system during heavy rainfall. Green roofs are mandatory for municipal buildings, and the city has a program to subsidize the installation of green roofs on privately owned buildings.
  • The city is also pursuing use of multifunctional garages to deal with stormwater overflow. The Museumpark is an underground water storage facility with a capacity of 10 million liters (roughly 2.6 million gallons), making it the largest underground water storage facility in the Netherlands. When a downpour is over, the rainwater is pumped into the sewers and discharged in the usual manner.

We’re looking forward to sharing with Paula Verhoeven her insights and experiences on these and other water and climate initiatives at the Forum.