Climate change is increasing the risk of flooding, both in coastal and delta regions.
“With our headquarters in a country that is largely below sea level, we know all about this,” said Ronald Schinagl, Van Oord’s Area Director Netherlands.
To guarantee that Dutch feet will stay dry, Van Oord regularly works on coastal defense and dyke reinforcement projects.
To protect the coastline against a so-called superstorm that occurs once every 10,000 years, the Hollands Noorderkwartier Regional Water Board recently contracted a Van Oord consortium to create broad dunes and beaches along the Hondsbossche and Pettemer seawall.
“To limit the inconvenience to the local community and combat sand-drift, we’re using traditional, natural materials to keep the sand we’ve deposited in place,” commented Niels Hutter, Environmental Manager for Van Oord. “This involves adding pulped paper during dune construction, planting approximately 640,000 square meters of marram grass, and installing kilometers-long willow twig sand screens.”
Hagestein-Opheusden Dyke Improvement is also one of the many projects that fall under the Room for the River Program. “We were contracted by the Rivierenland Water Board to reinforce approximately 18 kilometers of embankment here, as part of a consortium. The project area encompassed two dyke rings, ten project sites and five municipalities,” explained Stan Bettinger, Project Manager for Van Oord.
“We found a simple and environmentally friendly way to improve dyke safety by using dyke pins, steel anchor rods encased in cement. They’re inserted into the dyke’s underlying layer of sand and prevent the dyke from collapsing during flooding. It’s a smart solution when work space is at a premium, for example because of housing and vegetation.”
The country’s location on the North Sea and in the delta of Europe’s major rivers has brought it prosperity, but it has also made the Netherlands vulnerable to flooding. More than 1100 kilometers of dyke and 256 locks and pumping stations will need to be reinforced and improved by 2028.
This work has been divided into almost 300 projects spread out across the entire country, some along the coast, some along the major rivers, and some along lakes.