Luc Verschuren and Ruben De Cuyper of HZ Knowledge Center Zeeuwse Samenleving presented the report 'Protecting Zeeland from Water' on Friday, together with lecturer Teun Terpstra of the Resilient Deltas research group and Toine Poppelaars of the Water Board.

The knowledge center was commissioned by Waterschap Scheldestromen to conduct a panel survey on how Zeelanders view rising sea levels, flood risks and sea dike reinforcement. 2000 panel members were contacted; 895 Zeelanders responded.

The survey shows that the people of Zeeland are taking into account a significantly faster rise in sea level than experts are currently taking into account. At the same time, inhabitants have great faith in the strength of the dikes. Therefore, they do not see the expected rise as a direct threat to their living environment.

Paying extra

The knowledge center also investigated whether and how much Zeeuwen are willing to pay extra to keep the dikes up to date and safe. 57 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay 50 to 80 euros (or more) per year in additional water board taxes for this purpose. In addition, respondents would rather see dike reinforcements at the expense of farmland or recreational areas than sacrifice natural areas or historical objects for them.