Index Visitors' book

The struggle against the water

The Netherlands is located in a low-lying delta. The history of the country has been determined by the struggle against the water.
In 1953 the southwestern part of the Netherlands was struck by huge floods, in which 1853 people were drowned. The Dutch population was devastated. Shortly after the disaster the Delta Plan was drawn up containing measures to prevent such disasters.

[map of the Netherlands] The sea inlets in Zeeland are sealed off. With the completion of the Eastern Scheldt Barrier in 1986, the province of Zeeland was safe, but South Holland was not. Soon after the 1953 disaster the dike reinforcements in South Holland proceeded smoothly. In the 1970s, however, the people protested against the elevation of the dikes in urban areas. Under the plans historic buildings would be lost in numerous places. The idea of a movable storm surge barrier - an old plan dating from the 1950s - surfaces again. The choice is: dikes or a storm surge barrier? Following a technical and financial feasibility study, a storm surge barrier was oplid for.

The Dutch government asked building contractors to produce a design for the storm surge barrier including their price tag. Six designs were submitted. The Bouwkombinatie Maeslant Kering (BMK) submitted the winning design.

The storm surge barrier alone is unable to guarantee the safety of South Holland, as seawater can enter the Europort area freely through the seaports. For this reason a supplementary dike reinforcement programme is implemented, with a further barrier. This runs through the Europort area and is known as the Europort Barrier.