Holland's Fight Against the Sea

by Alexander Danilevsky,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1983, Vol. 53, Issue 4, Pg. 50-53

Document Type: Feature article


The Netherlands have always been threatened by the sea, its Delta Region most of all. After the catastrophic floods of 1953, the Delta Plan for the strengthening of coastal defenses and the shortening of the shore line was drawn up. It called for the construction of 11 dams, four of which were to close off the estuaries of the Rhine, Scheldt and Maas Rivers. The Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier, the last and most important of them, budgeted at $1.4 billion, was begun in 1978 and will become operational in 1986. Designed as a movable dam, it closes the 9 km (5.6 mi.) wide Eastern Scheldt estuary. Its erection in open sea, in strong tidal currents, in 40 m. (130 ft.) of water, on shifting sands, represented a major challenge. No previously used and perfected methods were applicable. A new theoretical approach, as well as new construction techniques, had to be devised. A fleet of specially designed construction vessels was built at a cost of $145 million.

Subject Headings: Seas and oceans | Dams | Estuaries | Storm surges | Floods | Shores | Infrastructure construction | Rivers and streams | Netherlands | Europe

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