Triggered by recent flood catastrophes and increasing concerns about climate change, scientists as well as policy-makers increasingly call for making long-term water policies to enable a transformation towards flood resilience. A key question is how to make these long-term policies adaptive so that they are able to deal with uncertainties and changing circumstances. The paper proposes three conditions for making long-term water policies adaptive, which are then used to evaluate a new Dutch water policy approach called Adaptive Delta Management'. Analysing this national policy approach and its translation to the Rotterdam region reveals that Dutch policy-makers are torn between adaptability and the urge to control. Reflecting on this dilemma, the paper suggests a stronger focus on monitoring and learning to strengthen the adaptability of long-term water policies. Moreover, increasing the adaptive capacity of society also requires a stronger engagement with local stakeholders including citizens and businesses.