From ‘Eau De Cologne’ – Car to Modern Sewerage System (Part 2)

Having examined the importance of water in urban metabolisms and the contextual setting of Amsterdam’s hydrological cycle, we now explore its management:

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 16.19.06.pngFigure 1: Key components of Amsterdam’s water management, Waternet 2016

Amsterdam has much higher water demand in comparison to other cities in the country – namely from the higher prevalence of migrants and residents aged 25-49 (Dalhuisen et. al, 2003: 274). The city has always had an independent water system: first ran by the Amsterdam Water Supply Company before merging with local water board DWR to form the Netherlands’ first integrated water and sanitation company (including surface, ground-, drinking and stormwater); Waternet.


The city has identified the flows of energy, water and resources in contributing to its ambition to develop as a competitive and sustainable European metropolis (van Der Hoek et. al, 2015). In transitioning from a linear usage of resources and waste production towards a sustainable management of urban resources, the municipal companies of Waternet and AEB (waste to energy company) have played a major role in facilitating city objectives. These include initiatives that focus on energy, waste and material flows:

  • Installing meters and linking charges to residential water use
  • Green roofs
  • Using thermal and chemical energy generated from water supplies
  • Knowledge exchange with European institutions and cities

The City Blue print as van Leeuwen and Sjerps (2015) discuss, allows Amsterdam to access sustainability of its water cycle. This includes 24 indicators including the key areas of efficiency, security, governance, climate robustness, biodiversity and infrastructure.

32.pngFigure 2: Amsterdam’s Blue City Index on which it scores an 8.3; the city is world-leading in terms of wastewater treatment and climate change adaptation, Blue City Index 2015

As seen above, Amsterdam’s unique water cycle approach proven highly beneficial. Of the 30 cities assessed so far, Amsterdam scores the highest owing to its long term vision and multi-level water governance approach in integrating water, energy and material flows.


As we look at the specific context of Amsterdam, we see that it has used its privileged position to set itself as a framework for efficient and resilient urban water governance. An effective governance of the water cycle is important for Amsterdam’s economic ambitions: its leisure, tourism and recreation; as well as for sustainability, livability and climate proofing (IEES Workshop). Yet, being constantly threatened by flooding, increasing inhabitants and tourist influx, it has learned to be innovative and flexible in its planning. As such, projects like the islands at Ijburg highlight one of many novel initiatives taken by Amsterdam in catering for urban growth whilst putting a focus on energy saving and using sustainable building materials (Van Der Hoek, et. al 1999).







Dalhuisen, J.M., C.A. Rodenburg, H.L. de Groot. and P. Nijkamp (2003). Sustainable water management policy: lessons from Amsterdam. European Planning Studies, 11(3), pp.263-281.

Van der Hoek, J.P., B.J. Dijkman, G.J. Terpstra, M.J. Uitzinger, and M.R.B. Van Dillen (1999). ‘Selection and evaluation of a new concept of water supply for “Ijburg” Amsterdam’. Water science and Technology, 39(5), pp.33-40.

Van Leeuwen, C.J. and R.M.A Sjerps (2015). ]The City Blueprint of Amsterdam: an assessment of integrated water resources management in the capital of the Netherlands’. Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, 15(2), pp.404-410.

Van der Hoek, J. P., A. Struker, J.E.M. de Danschutter (2015). ‘Amsterdam as a sustainable European metropolis: integration of water, energy and material flows’, Urban Water Journal, 14(1), pp. 61-68.



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