Because the Netherlands is one of the world’s lowest-lying countries, its people have suffered every time a storm raises water levels. Beginning in the first century A.D. The residents of this area have attempted to protect themselves from the devastation caused by rising water levels. Originally, the Zuiderzee was a shallow bay in the North Sea. It was approximately 30 miles wide and extended 60 miles inland. Despite its size, the bay was only about 15 feet deep. When there was a storm, the dikes failed and the land flooded.
The Delta Works project began in 1953, following centuries of flooding that not only destroyed property but also claimed thousands of lives. The Delta Works include storm surge barriers, dams, locks, levees, and dikes, all of which are intended to enlarge the land, shorten the coastline, and protect the land from the ocean.
The Zuiderzee was a valuable resource for the Dutch. It opened up trade and fishing opportunities.
Zuiderzee means “Southern Sea” in Dutch.
The Zuiderzee originally covered 2000 square miles.
72 villages were flooded when a seawall on the Zuiderzee dike failed during a storm in 1421. Around 10,000 people were killed.
The first plan to address flooding and devastation was devised in the 17th century. The technology to solve the problem did not exist until the nineteenth century.
Cornelis Lely, a Dutch civil engineer, devised the plan to build a dam and turn Zuiderzee into a lake.
Cornelis Lely was appointed Minister of Transport and Public Works in 1913. Until 1916, he continued to meet with concerns. More flooding was caused by a winter storm that year.
Lely’s plan was approved in 1918. They built the dam with boulder clay, also known as till.
The sea was closed off in 1932, and Zuiderzee, now a lake, was renamed Ijsselmeer. In 2004, the project would have cost $710 million US dollars.
Massive flooding struck again in 1953, killing approximately 2,000 people.
Over 150,000 hectares of land were flooded in 1953.
Following the 1953 flood, plans for the Delta Works were developed.
It took nearly 50 years to complete the Delta Works. Although it was completed in 1997, the official opening did not take place until 2010. The final retaining wall was strengthened and raised in 2010.
The Delta Works project cost $7 billion in 1997.
Delta Works has 13 dams and barriers. Oosterscheldekering is the largest.
The concrete used to construct the Delta Works is guaranteed for 200 years.
Delta Works has 16,500 kilometers of dams.
Delta Works’ construction resulted in the reclamation of more than 895 square miles of land.
Flooding has been greatly reduced as a result of the Delta Works. Because global water levels are rising, Delta Works will need to be maintained and expanded over time.
The Zuiderlee and Delta Works are two of the modern world’s seven wonders.