Dutch coast superstorm proof for the next 50 years

The rising sea level requires us continually to improve our flood protection. And sea water warming increases the probability of severe and more powerful storms, both during and outside the storm season. The completion of the last weak link on the Dutch coast, in the West-Zeeuws Vlaanderen area, means that the Dutch coast will be superstorm proof for the next 50 years. The improvement of the coastal section spanning more than 10 kilometres has cost more than 130 million euros; the completed project was presented yesterday by Minister Schultz van Haegen.

‘The probability of a superstorm averages 1% in 100 years. This does not seem much, but without proper protection the damages may run up to more than 100 billion euros. Furthermore, it would seriously disrupt society for years on end. It is important for us to be well prepared for violent storms,’ says Minister Schultz van Haegen. ‘In 2003, nine weak links were identified along the Dutch coast, locations at which we were vulnerable. We have now tackled the last weak link and I am proud to present the results. The Dutch coast is superstorm proof and safer than ever.’

In the context of the Flood Protection Programme, the Scheldestromen district water board and Rijkswaterstaat have worked hard to render the coast from Breskens to Cadzand-Bad not only safe, but also more attractive. The coastal improvement has given a major impetus to an economically and demographically vulnerable region.

For example, the municipality of Sluis has capitalised on the coastal improvement to give the beach resort of Cadzand-Bad a considerable upgrade. A public-private collaboration has been set up to construct a marina between the new longitudinal embankments. The embankments have been topped with Xblocs (preformed concrete blocks shaped like an X) to break high waves. Xblocs cut costs, because they require less material. This is the first time Xblocs have been used along the Dutch coast.

“Climate Adaptation Dune”

Near Waterdunen, a so-called climate adaptation dune has been constructed which is sufficiently high and strong to offer protection for the next 200 years. The highest dune is some 18 metres high, while the inland dune is approx. 300 metres wide.

The work commenced at the end of 2009. The first three sub-projects (Nieuwvliet-Groede, Herdijkte Zwarte Polder, and Breskens) were completed between 2010 and 2012. The final two projects (Waterdunen and Cadzand-Bad) were/will be completed by mid 2016 / the autumn of 2016 respectively.