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225 years of Rijkswaterstaat: the Netherlands grew up with it

May 30, 2023

May 24, 1798

Rijkswaterstaat was established on May 24, 1798 to protect the country from “the Rage of the Sea and of Storms. The organization has since grown into a party with 10,000 employees. The government agency deals with numerous water, infrastructure and environmental tasks.

“Rijkswaterstaat was founded in 1798 as the Bureau of Water Management”


Dutch national road network

Rijkswaterstaat realized, among other things, the Delta Works and the Afsluitdijk that protect our country from floods. In past centuries, the party also built many locks, dams and canals. Rijkswaterstaat also provided construction and management of the Dutch national road network. Although the Dutch road network is considered one of the safest and most efficient in the world, traffic congestion does become an increasing problem. Working from home is still rare, and this results in several traffic jams every day. That’s another story.

Rijkswaterstaat 225 years

More sustainable Netherlands

Rijkswaterstaat is also actively working to make the Netherlands more sustainable. For example, the party (co-)constructed the Marker Wadden. It is also working to develop the offshore wind energy network. In the coming years, the Department of Public Works will not have to be bored either.

Climate Adaptation

“We face major tasks in the coming years in the areas of water, infrastructure and the environment. One of the most important is climate adaptation. The Netherlands is increasingly facing extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall, drought and heat waves. This has major consequences for the water management of our country and for our infrastructure. In our anniversary year, we are paying extra attention to climate adaptation. We are also working with partners from government, industry and the knowledge sector to map out the facts and scenarios,” said Rijkswaterstaat. “In addition, we continue to focus on the further development of a sustainable and smart infrastructure. In doing so, we are using new technologies and innovations.”

Video: 225 years of the Department of Public Works

On the occasion of this anniversary, the film below was made. The film marks the start of the anniversary year. The film shows in a multitude of (historical) image clips what Rijkswaterstaat has accomplished over the past 225 years and looks ahead to the future. Fun fact: between 1945 and 1965, the national road network grew from 100 to 600 km.

Read more about 225 years of the Department of Public Works here.