Is your house waterproof?

Utrecht University and Witteveen+Bos develop online tool for climate adaptation

water stroomt uit de goot, het regent hard

Extreme rainfall in the Netherlands is causing increasing flooding and damage to homes. Using scientific knowledge and experience from Utrecht University (UU), engineering firm Witteveen+Bos has developed the website Here, residents can easily see how well their homes and land are able to withstand water. They also get clear tips and suggestions for improving their home’s water resistance.

Witteveen+Bos developed the website to help people make their homes and gardens climate adaptive and thus contribute to the reduction of both drought and flooding. The tool is now being expanded with knowledge from the UU about flood risk communication. Karin Snel, PhD student at UU, conducted research on this subject and, with the aid of seed money from the Transforming Cities Hub, translated some of her findings and experiences into the new website.

Here, anyone can now easily get advice for a climate-proof design of their plot and house. As a user, you only need to fill in your postcode and house number. You will then receive a customised recommendation for taking water storage measures specifically for your plot. The tool uses various public data sources, such as plot size, aerial photos, soil type and groundwater level.

A good example of how the Geosciences faculty's climate research can contribute to solving current climate issues.

Water damage label

With the UU's input, in the future labels will also be assigned to plots. Initially, this will be done for water damage caused by precipitation and flooding from the sea or river. If the plot has a low risk of flooding, it will be given a good label (e.g. A or B). If the risk of flooding is high, a lower label is given (e.g. E or F). The aim is to provide residents with at-a-glance insight into the vulnerability of their property to flooding.

The website also offers measures to prevent water damage and flooding. In this way, everyone can easily contribute to a climate-proof design. The website will be expanded in the summer of 2021 with input from Snel's PhD research.

Collaboration and further development

UU and Witteveen+Bos will work closely together in the coming years to develop the website further. The long-term aim is to expand IkBenWaterproof to include other climate themes, such as heat stress. Ultimately, this will create an online application that helps residents to take the right steps towards a climate-proof design for their own property.

The collaboration was sealed on 19 May with a cooperation and licensing agreement between UU and Witteveen+Bos. Mirko Lukács of the Knowledge Transfer Office (KTO) Utrecht Holdings and Simone Pekelsma of UU's Research Support Office (RSO) supported and guided the discussions and agreements between the parties.

betrokkenen ondertekenen de samenwerking tussen universiteit utrecht en witteveen en bos
Utrecht University and Witteveen+Bos sign the collaboration agreement. Photo: Simone Pekelsma.

Contributing to solving climate issues

“It was great to see how driven Karin Snel and the Witteveen+Bos people were to make this cooperation happen, and a good example of how the Geosciences faculty's climate research can contribute to solving current climate issues,” said Lukács. With the collaboration, IkBenWaterproof will be expanded and equipped with UU's scientific insights on risk communication. On the other hand, UU's research will find a low-threshold application in an application intended for citizens. “Through our collaboration with UU we hope to be able to contribute to the first 'Delta work' that is being developed with citizens and that will help make the Netherlands climate proof,” says Herman Mondeel, PMC leader of Water Management and Spatial Adaptation at Witteveen+Bos.

twee kinderen zitten op een tafel in een overstroomde woonkamer

Curious after reading this article? Check whether you are waterproof against extreme rainfall. In summer 2021, you can also check the website to see which label you will receive for water damage and flooding.