Elections of the Water Board

Since 1 July 2014, the Water Board elections take place on the same day as the provincial council elections. Water Board elections take place every four years. The most recent elections took place on Wednesday, 18 March 2015. The next Water Board elections will be held on 20 March 2019.

photo of Zaandam landscape

Image: Richard van Elferen Mediatheek government of the Netherlands

A Water Board's governing board is more or less comparable with a municipality's municipal council. The governing board determines the Water Board's policies and monitors the execution of these policies by the executive board. The governing board represents all parties interested in the Water Board's performance of its duties. The most important group of such interested parties is formed by the residents of the Water Board's territory.

Governing board elected members

Every four years, the residents within a Water Board's territory elect the members of the 'residents' category of members of the governing board. Apart from the 'residents' category, the board also includes representatives from the business, agricultural and environmental sectors. These representatives hold so-called guaranteed seats and are not elected by way of elections. The governing board is composed of 18 to 30 members. The majority of this number is elected by way of direct elections.

Organization of the elections

The Municipal Executive of each municipality is responsible for the organization of all elections within their municipality. This includes the Water Board elections. The Water Boards themselves, too, are involved in the organization. For instance, each Water Board has its own principal and central electoral committee responsible for the registration, , the nomination and the determination of the election results.

Eligibility to vote

The same requirements for casting their vote in the Water Board elections apply to Dutch nationals and EU citizens. A voter must meet the following requirements:
• The voter must be 18 years of age or over
• The voter may not be debarred from voting
• The voter must have been a resident of a Dutch Water Board territory on nomination day, as evidenced by the Base Registry Persons.

These requirements apply equally to non-Dutch nationals holding a valid residence permit, irrespective of the term of their residence in the Netherlands. The requirements for standing at the elections to the Water Board are virtually the same as the requirements for being entitled to cast a vote. The only difference is that instead of nomination day, the day of (possible) admittance to the governing board is the reference date for meeting the requirements of residence and age.

Registration of Political Groupings

Political groupings may participate in the Water Board elections. Such groupings may be interest groups acting in the interest of, for instance, recreational water sports enthusiasts or striving to protect local animal and plant life. Local political parties desiring to participate in the elections to the Water Board under a particular name (legally referred to as: appellation) are required to have this appellation registered with the central electoral committee of the Water Board concerned. Appellations already registered for the elections to the House of Representatives are in principle also registered for the Water Board elections. These appellations do not, therefore, have to be re-registered with the various municipalities for use in the Water Board elections.


On nomination day, all political groupings submit their list of Water Board candidates to the central electoral committee of the Water Board in which they wish to participate in the elections. Groupings participating in the Water Board elections for the first time and groupings that failed to gain a seat in the previous Water Board elections are required to pay a deposit. This deposit of € 225 must be paid to the Water Board. In addition, new parties, and registered groupings that failed to gain a seat in the previous elections, must submit declarations of support. When drawing up their list of candidates, parties may make use of the Election Supporting Software (ESS).

Polling stations

The elections of the governing board of the Water Board are held on the same day as the provincial council elections. Everyone eligible to vote will, no later than 14 days prior to election day, receive two poll cards: one poll card for the Water Board elections and one for the provincial council elections. All polling stations will have one Water Board election ballot box and one provincial council election ballot box. Voters are of course free to only vote in one of the two elections. Polling stations are open from 7.30 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. Only special polling stations may open their doors at an earlier time. No station may be open after 9.00 p.m. As many polling stations as possible, but no fewer than 25% of the total number, must be in buildings accessible to voters with a physical impairment and be in a location that is easy to reach for such voters.

Voting within the Water Board borders

Voters cast their vote for the Water Board responsible for the region they live in. If municipal and Water Board borders do not overlap and multiple Water Boards are active within the same municipality, voters will only be able to cast their Water Board election votes in those polling stations located within the territory of 'their' Water Board. Municipalities are, however, free to designate a number of polling stations (e.g. those located at main railway stations) where votes can be cast for all Water Boards active within the municipal borders.

Voting by proxy

Voters may authorize someone else to vote on their behalf on election day. This is called voting by proxy.


All voters casting their vote must show identification to identify themselves. Any such identity document must not have been expired by more than five years.

Voter card

Voters may also cast their vote in another municipality than the one they reside in, provided this municipality falls within the Water Board territory's borders. They can apply for the issuance of a voter card for this purpose.

Election results

Following the elections, the officials of each polling station count the votes cast in their station for both the Provincial Council and Water Board elections. The polling station officials draw up an official report for both elections, stating, for example, the number of votes cast and the number of valid poll cards. The municipality gathers the various reports of the polling stations located within its borders and counts the total number of votes. They subsequently submit the official reports to the Water Board's principal electoral committee. The principal and central electoral committee will then determine the election results in open session.


The members of the governing board of a Water Board are appointed by the central electoral committee. The departing members of the governing board of the Water Board for the 'residents' category then determine whether the persons appointed are actually admitted as governing board members. In its assessment, the board verifies whether the candidate meets the requirements for membership, and whether they do not hold any positions incompatible with being a member of the governing board. This assessment is referred to as an examination of credentials.

Overview of Water Boards

The Water Boards in the Netherlands have traditionally performed the water management of a specific territory on behalf of the residents of that territory. Their duties include managing the water defences, ensuring the water is at the right level and that waste water is properly purified. As of 1 January 2014, there are 24 Water Boards in the Netherlands. Every Water Board has its own elected governing board and an executive board. Both boards are presided over by the same chair.