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2. Blending Multiple Policies and Interests into a Single Project

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In this chapter we will deal with the multiple policy context of the Regge renaturalization project. The project is not solely a water management process, as it includes nature development aspects as well as many other policies and societal goals. Furthermore the Regge renaturalization is embedded in water buffering policies and corridors connecting nature areas at a bigger scale. On the other hand the Regge project falls apart in various smaller-scale projects. Likewise it is placed in a certain time period, through which relevant policies can undergo relevant changes (as was shown quite dramatically at the end of the research period). The Regge renaturalization can be characterized as multi-sectoral and long term and is thus a complex and dynamic implementation process. We will show some of the relevant Dutch and regional policies and their development as part of the context for the Regge renaturalization process.

With approximately one quarter of the area being located below sea level and three main rivers running through it, flooding issues have long been an important matter for Dutch society. At this moment important tasks are completed by the relevant state agencies and their regional branches (sea dikes, management of big rivers) however, independent regional water governments (the Waterboards) also play a major role. Due to the urgent and timely nature of responses to flooding, local bodies were the earliest structures framing the development of the authorities delegated to manage these threats to loss of life and land. Waterboards were set up beginning in the 13th century to manage the water that was being held back in the interest of agriculture and security. This generally happened in a ‘bottom up’ fashion through the actions and interests of farmers who had a large stake in trying to keep their ‘feet dry’. The Waterboards largely dealt with the maintenance and security of polders (a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments, with man-made drainage systems) as well as water levels outside the polders. The Waterboards are the oldest democratic institutions in 16 Complex and Dynamic Implementation Processes the country and are still governed according to the interest-taxation representation principle in which groups paying for their ‘services’ are represented and have to work together in the board. This experience has also influenced the general decentralisation and communal cooperation of Dutch Government. They are responsible for management and maintenance of water barriers, waterways, proper water levels and surface water quality through wastewater treatment within their territories.

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