Rainwater buffer in Vijlen prevents waterlogging in residential areas

In 2023, the Limburg district water board and the municipality of Vaals constructed a new rainwater buffer in Vijlen. This buffer is capable of storing some 5000 m³ of water. The rainwater buffer in Vijlen is part of a larger regional project intended to climate proof the Mechelderbeekdal brook valley.

Photo: Bjorn Frins

What is the purpose of the rainwater buffer?

The rainwater buffer in Vijlen is intended to reduce waterlogging ensuing from severe rainfall in Vijlenstraat street. In addition, the rainwater buffer helps to reduce the risk of waterlogging in the lower lying village of Mechelen. This village is prone to flooding from Mechelderbeek brook.

Additional measures

In addition to the rainwater buffer, measures have also been taken to direct water from the public highway and from Mechelderbeek brook towards this buffer:

  • The road has been tilted in order for water to flow across the street into the meadow, rather than towards the adjacent houses;
  • The culvert underneath Vijlenstraat street has been expanded to aid the flow of rainwater.

Rainwater buffer is part of Mechelderbeekdal brook valley regional project

In collaboration with the municipalities of Gulpen-Wittem and Vaals, Limburg district water board is working on the reduction of waterlogging in Mechelderbeekdal brook valley. Severe rainfall can result in substantial waterlogging in this brook valley between the villages of Mechelen and Vijlen. At the end of 2021, the parties launched a study to explore ways to reduce waterlogging in the brook valley. The ultimate goal is to retain, store, and gradually drain rainwater falling in this valley. However, this involves a major operation that takes time. To expedite the production of actual results, the district water board has constructed this rainwater buffer in collaboration with the municipality of Vaals.

What is the effect so far?

The rainwater buffer produced an immediate effect. When the area was faced with severe rainfall in the summer of 2023, residents were not inconvenienced by waterlogging. The expanded culvert underneath Vijlenstraat street, the tilted road, and the new rainwater buffer are clearly contributing to creating a sustainable and safe living environment for the residents of Vijlen and Mechelen. This is a promising start of the efforts to climate proof the Mechelderbeekdal brook valley.

Photo: Bjorn Frins

Lessons to be learned

Climate proofing an entire region, such as the Mechelderbeekdal brook valley, takes time. District water boards tend to focus mainly on structural long-term measures. The beauty of this project is that the district water board in addition has also considered the short term: what measures that tie in with the Mechelderbeekdal project can we already take to protect residents from waterlogging?

Josette Van Wersch, member of Limburg district water board: “This project is an example of a no tarrying project. Climate proofing an area such as the Mechelderbeekdal brook valley takes time. As a district water board, we are considering the long run. However, we can already realise short-term projects, such as on Vijlenstraat street. Thus, we are helping the residents of Vijlenstraat street and addressing waterlogging in Mechelen.”

Contact person

Carlene Meertens
Waterschap Limburg

Project type
Completed measure
Waterschap Limburg en gemeente Vaals