The Delta Works
There are thirteen Delta Works in the provinces of Zeeland, Noord-Brabant and Zuid-Holland. These dams and storm surge barriers protect Southwest Netherlands against high water from the sea. The Directorate for Public Works and Water Management started constructing the Delta Works a year after the disastrous floods of 1953, which inundated large parts of Southwest Netherlands. The final Delta Work, the Maeslantkering (Maeslant storm surge barrier), was completed in 1997. The Southwest of the Netherlands is therefore now safe!
Experience the Delta route
You can use the Beleef de Deltaroute map to decide which Delta Work you would like to visit and to discover routes and places to visit in the area. Download leaflet
The jewel in the crown of the Delta Works The Oosterscheldekering (Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier) is one of the Delta Works. This storm surge barrier is unique because its 62 steel doors are always open. They are closed only if the water level is expected to reach NAP +3 metres. This construction/method enables the tidal nature of the Eastern Scheldt to be retained.
The Bathse Spuisluis (Bath discharge sluice) is one of the less well-known Delta Works. Its function is different to that of most of the Delta Works, in that it does not offer protection against high water from the sea, but drains the freshwater surplus from the Zoommeer, ensuring that its water levels do not rise too high. This surplus water subsequently flows into the Western Scheldt via the Bathse Spuikanaal (Bath drainage canal) and the Bathse Spuisluis.
The Haringvlietsluizen (Haringvliet sluices) are part of the Delta Works. The sluices keep dangerous high tides from the North Sea at bay and drain surplus water from the Rhine and Maas, thereby controlling the water level of the area between Stellendam and Dordrecht. The opening and closing of the sluice gates is done in a manner resembling the opening and turning off of a tap; this is the reason why the Haringvlietsluizen are also referred to as the tap of Europe.
The Brouwers dam is one of the Delta Works and is situated between the North Sea and the Grevelingenmeer (Lake Grevelingen). It shields the hinterland against high tides from the sea. When the Brouwers dam was being designed, considerations went beyond the technical requirements, incorporating recreational options and integration into the landscape, which means you can now fully enjoy everything: the beach, the sea and all that the wonderful natural surroundings have to offer.
The Hollandsche IJsselkering (Hollandsche IJssel storm surge barrier) was the first of the Delta Works. It is a movable storm surge barrier so that shipping traffic and water management suffer as little disruption as possible. It is closed at a forecast water level of 2.25 metres above NAP (Amsterdam Ordnance Datum). The barrier protects the densely populated provinces of Zuid-Holland and Utrecht from flooding.
The Grevelingen dam is one of the Delta Works. Together with the Brouwers dam, it closes off the Grevelingen, the largest saltwater lake in Western Europe. The dam was devised to reduce the flow in the area and, in doing so, to facilitate the construction of the Haringvliet dam, Brouwers dam and Oosterscheldekering (Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier). Now, the back door of the Grevelingen provides a stable water level, thus regulating the strain on the other flood defences.
The Hartelkering (Hartel storm surge barrier) is one of the Delta Works that form the Europoortkering (Europoort storm surge barrier), together with the Maeslantkering (Maeslant storm surge barrier) and the dike at Rozenburg. They protect the provinces of Zuid-Holland and Utrecht against the threatening high tide from the North Sea. It is an area of economic significance, where millions of people are able to live and work safely thanks to the flood defence. The Hartelkering is an automatically operated flood defence with the largest lifting cylinders in Europe. It closes at an anticipated water level of NAP +3 metres.
The Oester dam, the longest dam of all of the Delta Works, is located on the divide of the Scheldt-Rhine canal and the Eastern Scheldt. The dam prevents the freshwater of the Scheldt-Rhine canal from flowing into the Eastern Scheldt; in doing so, it contributes towards preserving the natural surroundings of the Eastern Scheldt. Additionally, thanks to the Oester dam, shipping traffic between Antwerp and Rotterdam can move swiftly and safely because the Scheldt-Rhine canal is no longer affected by tidal conditions.
The Maeslantkering (Maeslant storm surge barrier) is the Delta Work with the largest moving parts anywhere in the world. It makes up the Europoortkering (Europoort storm surge barrier), together with the Hartelkering (Hartel storm surge barrier) at Spijkenisse and the dike reinforcement at Rozenburg. They protect the provinces of Zuid-Holland and Utrecht against high tides from the North Sea. The barrier is always open, allowing shipping traffic unrestricted transit to the waterway known as the Nieuwe Waterweg. During threatening high tide levels (NAP + 3 meter in Rotterdam or NAP +2.90 meter in Dordrecht), the barrier will close automatically.
Philipsdam and Krammersluizen
The Philips dam is one of the Delta Works. It forms the divide between the freshwater lake Volkerak-Zoom and the salty waters of the Eastern Scheldt. Many varied forms of nature have emerged on both sides of the dam from this divide. The dam was constructed to enhance the tidal action in the Eastern Scheldt, which had been reduced when the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier was constructed. The Krammersluizen (Krammer locks) make up part of the dam and ensure that the Western Scheldt-Rhine link remains accessible for shipping traffic.
The Volkeraksluizen (Volkerak sluices) are part of the Delta Works and make up part of the largest and busiest canal sluice complex of Europe. Following the closure of the eastern side of the Haringvliet and the Eastern Scheldt, the sluices guarantee that the key shipping routes between Amsterdam and Germany and between Antwerp and Rotterdam remain easily and safely accessible. Together with the Volkerak dam and the Hellegats dam, these sluices protect the southern delta from high tides.
The Veerse Gat dam is one of the Delta Works and, together with the Zandkreek dam, it closes off the former Veerse Gat (Veere sea channel). Since the closure, this stretch of water, which is known as the Veerse Meer, has been wonderful for sailing enthusiasts, surfers and water-skiers. The dam resembles a dune landscape and protects the Zeeland coastline against high tides from the sea.
The Zandkreek dam is the first Delta Work in the province of Zeeland. Together with the Veerse Gat dam, this dam closes off the former Veerse Gat. Since the closure in 1961, this stretch of water has been known as the Veerse Meer (Lake Veere). Both dams protect the Zeeland islands against the violence of the sea.