Dutch term – Waterschap

Water board charter of 1286

Water board charter of 1286.
Image credits: Hoogheemraadschap Rijnland (public domain)

The Waterschap is the water board, the government agency responsible for water management. With half our country below sea level, that is a big responsibility. Just last night, the water boards decided to close the storm surge barriers between the North Sea and the rivers to prevent major flooding.

Water boards have been around for a very long time. The Hoogheemraadschap Rijnland water board for example, was invested by count Floris V of Holland in 1286. That water board exists to this day and ensures that my own house isn’t flooded and that we have fresh water to drink.

Water management shaped Dutch culture and values. To claim land from the see and keep it dry, you need to collaborate on a regional level. Compromises need to be made. To this day, collaboration and compromise are at the core of Dutch politics. Even our right-wing parties are probably more socialist than most left-wing parties in other countries.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Dave Simmer says

    Yvette, this is a very insteresting article. I love history and especially concerning engineering. You and your country have a lot to be proud of. I only wish the U.S. would take flood control and water management lessons from the Netherlands. Much of the money spent on flood control here is wasted or ends up in the pockets of corrupt politions.

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