Three Rotterdam solutions for too much and too little water

There is a good chance that without water Rotterdam would not even have existed. In recent years, however, the city has become acquainted with water in a less favourable manner. The number of periods with extreme rainfall are increasing heavily. Just as there are periods without any rainfall which makes the city cracking with drought. Following are three examples of how Rotterdam tackles these two paradoxically water problems in an innovative way. And successfully so!

Photo: water Cruijff Court in Spangen with water storage below the field.

Dry feet and a wet soccer field

In the neighborhood Spangen they solve the water problem with a 1000 m3 large underground water storage. This is located next to the stadium of the Sparta football club under a Cruijff court. This is a soccer field for the youth of Spangen and named after a former player of Feyenoord. The rainwater is collected and directed to a layer of sand, where it gets treated. After this, the water is stored in an underground water tank. The Sparta football club uses the purified water to water its field, saving 5,000 to 10,000 m3 of drinking water. A neighbouring city garden is also hosed with the same water. This way, the district benefits from the water buffer in two ways. It collects excess rain water and if it hasn’t rain for a long time, the water is used to hose the city garden.

You read ZoHo, you see four barrels of rain

In the Zomerhof district, men have come up with a different solution for how people can best deal with long-term drought and heavy rainfall. The rain that falls on a nearby train viaduct does not flow down through the sewer, but is collected in four large rain barrels. These four rain barrels each have the shape of a letter and make the word ZOHO. An abbreviation for the ZOmerHOf district. Bas Sala, designer of the letters: “The letters, or actually the rain barrels, are in a so-called rain garden. We water this garden with that saved rain water. If a lot of precipitation is predicted, we will drain the rain barrels and the water will flow to a wadi. This is a natural place where the water can be temporarily stored. This way we create a buffer for the most important rain showers."

See photo on top of the page: The rain barrels, or the letters ZOHO, in the middle of the rain garden. Credits:

The Sponge garden in the M4H district.

A garden as a sponge, it’s possible in Rotterdam

Finally The Sponge Garden, an initiative by the Urbanists. The purpose of the garden is to investigate which soil composition in combination with which plants holds rainwater the longest. The garden is meant to have a function similar to a sponge. And you would almost forget it ... but the Sponge Garden is also a lovely garden to visit.