Until 1848, the Regge River was quite a meandering river. Starting in the 19th century the first bends were cut and over the years the Regge River was largely turned into a canal. Under flooding conditions, large areas in the valley of the Regge River are flooded and in some places the floods are a mile wide. In severe drought situations, however, the river is no more than a coherent set of stationary eddies. Nowadays, the main stream regularly cuts off meanders, but these are still recognizable in the landscape today.
With climate change the precipitation patterns are projected to change: more rain is expected to fall in shorter periods of time, increasing the risk of floods, while dry periods are expected to become longer and hotter, increasing the need for water retention for nature and agriculture. With the current river structure, such precipitation patterns will lead to severe problems.
Despite the rivers’ restricted structure, the Regge is still important for small-scale nature and the cultural landscape. The Water Board Regge and Dinkel (successively merged into the Water Board Vechtstromen) is committed, together with the province of Overijssel, relevant municipalities, landowners and various interest groups, to gradually transform some 50 km of the river into a natural river. The ‘climate buffer’ Regge will provide more space to store the water in periods of flooding by re-meandering. This transformation will also increase the sponge effect of the soil, preserving more water for dry periods.
In summary, the Regge faces extreme peak discharges and has inadequate basic drainage, while the region faces desiccation of nature and drought damage to agriculture in the summer season. The stream was ‘sandwiched’ between maintenance paths and water retaining embankments. This provided little room for the necessary restoration of the dynamics of the river. Moreover, the quality of the water and its sediments was moderate to poor.
All in all, the river forms a landscape that provides insufficient basis for a scenic and ecologically well-functioning of the Regge basin. The challenge of the transformation programme, which includes several projects, was to turn the catchment into a string of beads of habitats for plants and animals, and a beautiful 'backdrop' for tourists and holidaymakers to cross by bicycle, boat or on foot or to spend a few days. The aspirations of farmers to broaden their businesses are also connected with this programme.