Earth is calling... CATCH

Sponge cities to improve urban water quality

Climate change causes extreme weather conditions: heavy storms, extreme drought and floods. They bring about severe consequences. The frequency of flooding and extreme rainfall has risen by 50% in just 10 years, has quadrupled since 1980 and has even doubled since 2004. It is a battle between humans and nature, and solutions must be found. On the one hand to counteract extreme weather conditions, but also to develop innovative new techniques

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In short

  • Effects of weather conditions are increasing, also in cities 
  • The European Interreg project CATCH makes medium-sized cities in the North Sea region climate-proof

Global Goal

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From concrete cast cities to “sponge cities”

In terms of water management, China has a lot to improve. Wen Mei Dubbelaar, head of water management at Arcadis in NRC: “In the Netherlands, we look carefully at the balance of the soil when we build something: what is destroyed, so what needs to be repaired? If, like in Chinese cities, concrete is poured everywhere, water cannot go anywhere. There must be a balanced cycle of raindrops evaporating, condensing and falling back to the earth. In China, this cycle was broken. In addition, almost all open water in Chinese cities is black and smelly, because of the enormous pollution that the building and industry have brought into the Chinese soil, thus contaminating the water. A comprehensive approach is needed to convert these concrete cast cities into ‘sponge cities’: where water is not just collected but also routed to the correct drain. It can then be cleaned, if necessary. China has excellent engineers, but lacks a comprehensive approach.”

Related article(s)

CATCH: comprehensive joint approach to tackle climate change impact

The European Interreg project CATCH wants to prepare midsize cities in the North Sea Region for climate change by making them climate resilient. Among others, the University of TwenteCity of Enschedeprovince Overijssel and Water Board Vechtstromen are partners in this project. Water management in such cities must be more efficient, thus also more sustainable. Innovations and technologies must be used to develop smart cities that are convenient and climate proof.


One of the pilots, project Stadsbeek, takes place in Enschede. The Pinkeltjesplein has been converted into a playground for kids and simultaneously acts as water storage during heavy rainfall.


Such pilots are essential for the development of new regulations and water management tools. At present, it is not clear who is responsible for dealing with the effects of climate change. The CATCH pilot projects will address this issue while also raising awareness.


The CATCH project focusses on The North Sea Region. This region is experiencing changes in climate, just like China and other parts of the world. The main source of problems is heavy rainfall: lots of rain in a short timeframe. In cities, this water cannot go anywhere because of all the concrete and asphalt. Therefore, the design of urban areas must change. CATCH provides the answer: a network of knowledge institutes and public parties jointly developing a comprehensive approach to creating resilient ‘sponge cities’ worldwide.

Date: 18 April 2018 |

Source of tekst: CATCH |