Transboundary watermanagement

Since January of 2010, water management agencies in South Limburg and Belgium have worked together to prevent flooding and increase water quality in four tributaries of the Meuse: the Geul, Voer, Jeker and Berwinne rivers.

District water boards, regional authorities, provinces, and municipalities in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion commit to the Aqaudra project by means of a contrat de rivière, a river contract based on a Walloon model, for four rivers, three of which run through Dutch and Flemish territory: the Geul (including the Gulp), the Voer, and the Jeker. The Berwinne runs from Wallonia to Flanders. The contract forms the basis for joint water management.

For this water management, Aquadra develops practical tools and a transboundary management structure. Hydrological models and monitoring networks are compared to reduce the risk of flooding. Will all these efforts turn out to have a positive effect? To find out, the results of several pilot projects will be evaluated. For example, additional monitoring stations have been placed in Wallonia to be able to adjust the basins in Limburg earlier and more accurately. Another example is the retaining of water from the Voer in the Horstergrub valley for a longer period of time, so as to prevent downstream flooding.

Upstream measures to avoid downstream problems is what we call aqua solidarity. Aquadra wants to introduce such transboundary water solidarity to a wide Euregional audience, and has started to do so by way of educational projects, walking and cycling routes, and informative signs at the site of completed projects.

Aquadra is coordinated by Didier Bonni from the Agence de Dévelopment Local Lontzen Plombières Welkenraedt, a non-profit local development organisation. Other financing partners are: District Water Board Roer and Overmaas, Province of Limburg (NL), Vlaamse Milieumaatschappij (Flemish Environment Agency), Province of Limburg (Flanders), A.s.b.l. Ardenne & Gaume, A.s.b.l. Contrat de Rivière Haut Geer.

Didier Bonni talks about Aquadra
Didier Bonni from the Agence de Dévelopment Local (ADL) Lontzen Plombières Welkenraedt manages the Aquadra project. Bonni: 'Before we started the project, Bureau Airco investigated how to best approach it. Since our development organisation had previous Interreg III experience with the 2002-2004 Geul valley project, we were asked to lead Aquadra. The Geul valley project involved seven municipalities and many other parties on both sides of the border. Our subsidy request in 2002 was supported by the Tri-Country Park, which aims to support transboundary projects. The Tri-Country Park also played an important role in the Aquadra subsidy request. Both the Geul valley project and the Aquadra project are part of the Tri-Country Park Development Perspective, which looks towards the future and aims to maintain green areas between Hasselt, Aachen, Liège, and Maastricht. Our plans for the four Aquadra rivers are part of building a sustainable water management structure, and also contribute to meeting the Dutch water management guidelines.'

Harry Tolkamp explains
Harry Tolkamp, senior strategy and policy advisor at the Roer and Overmaas District Water Board: 'For years, we have been trying to work towards transboundary cooperation on water issues, but it has always been difficult to get all the parties involved to sit down together. Aquadra takes away existing formal boundaries between the countries and simplifies the cooperation. It is easy to find one another and get down to business right away. We now aim to create permanent bottom-up deliberation systems.'

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Hiking paradise

5 star hiking paradise at Mount Gulpen

Mount Saint Peter


Border between Moelingen and Voeren

Visitor centre

Visitor centre Roode Beek Schinveld

Roode beek


Geul valley

Where the Geul flows naturally again

Outskirts of Voerendaal

View of Heerlen

Voer area near Schopem