Over the past decades, the Dutch people have been confronted with severe water-related problems, which are the result of an unsustainable water system, arising from human interventions in the physical infrastructure of the water system and the water management style. The claims of housing, industry, infrastructure and agriculture have resulted in increasing pressure on the water system. The continuous subsidence of soil and climate change has put pressure on the land. Hence, the nature and magnitude of water-related problems have changed. Longitudinal research of relevant national policy documents reveals that the water management regime has changed its water management style over the past 30 years from a technocratic scientific style towards an integral and participatory style. We have investigated if the historical development in Dutch Water management can be characterized as a transition. Based on longitudinal research through an integrated systems analysis, document research and expert interviews, we have reconstructed the historical narrative by using the transition concepts of multi-level and multi-phase. This research indicates that the shift in Dutch Water management can be characterized as a transition. This transition is currently in the take-off stage and near the acceleration stage. This is a crucial stage as long as the considerable gap between the strategic macro-vision and the practical implementation at the micro-level remains. As long as these levels are not compatible (modulation), the transition will not be completed successfully. Transition management as multi-level governance model should therefore be adopted to facilitate the modulation.
Keywords: Water management - Transitions - Transition management - sustainability