E. Bart Peerbolte, Herman G. Wind


Low-lying countries such as the Netherlands are very vulnerable to climatic changes, which are likely to cause an increase in sea-level rise. The most obvious threat is permanent inundation of unprotected low areas. However, such a 'final' situation will be preceded by a period of increasing episodic flooding and coastal erosion. Sea-level rise causes safety against flooding and erosion to reduce which should be accounted for in long-term coastal zone management plans. The question is to what extent such increases are tolerable and what can we do about it. This problem concerns the levels of safety which are desired, also in coastal areas which are already protected from flooding: is there a surplus of safety so that no intervention is required, or does the coastal defence system need to be adapted? The relevance of this question lies not perse in the threat of sea-level rise: the same question may be raised in the case of developing coastal areas, where economic values at stake increase: such developments cause a relative weakening of the flood defence system: the desired safety standards increase so that the existing defence system may not meet any longer the changed demand for flood protection and is to be adapted. The above problem description was the background of a number of studies in the Netherlands to assess the impacts of a possible climatic change and to evaluate potential counter measures. A model has been developed for quick analysis of combinations of scenarios for climate change and potential counter measures. This paper describes the limitations of Cost Benefit Analysis as a tool for the appraisal of flood alleviation in view of the inaccuracies in investment costs and material flood damages.


sea level rise; flood control; erosion control

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.9753/icce.v24.%25p