16 interesting facts about the largest European dam Delta in the Netherlands
- The enraged North Sea broke through dams and sand dunes, flooding 250,000 hectares of land on the night of January 31, 1953. Unfortunately, 1,600 people lost their lives in the water, while thousands of houses were destroyed. The danger of large floods and seas was constantly “hanging” over the population of the Netherlands, so the authorities decided to build the largest protective dam (Delta). The dam would protect the population from future large floods and accidents from the sea.
- Soon, or more precisely, on January 31, 2023, the 70th anniversary of this great tragedy will be marked in the Netherlands. The year 1953 meant a new and serious warning, so the engineers at “Vaterstat” (Ministry of Water) began to work seriously in efforts to solve this problem and remove the constant threat to the state of the Kingdom of Holland.
- The North Sea created the huge Zuiderzee bay in the north of the country in 1282. 142 the province of Zealand was submerged while 100,000 people lost their lives. 1825 Amsterdam was almost submerged under water. A significant part of the Dutch territory is below sea level during high tide. The country is stable only thanks to the countless dams that cut the territory into the so-called “polder” (that is, dried up basins for the protection of which there was a constant struggle). The defensive walls are continuously monitored and repaired. The water is pumped out using powerful pumps. These pumps are a replacement for the old colorful windmill pumps.
- The efforts of engineers back in 1953 and later years bore fruit. There are “polders” that are 6 meters below sea level. However, weather disasters and storms are conditioned by several circumstances (a strong tide during the equinox or the new moon that throws high waves on the coast and a simultaneous storm in the North Sea whose masses move in the same direction). The worst situation is when the rivers Raina and Meus (rivers that flow through the Netherlands) are rising (river courses are protected by defensive walls).
- The danger of floods has been constantly increasing in the history of the Netherlands. The Dutch Paradox: The ground sinks 30 cm over the course of a century while the sea level rises due to the melting of the ice in Greenland and Antarctica.
- Today, the Netherlands is one of the richest countries in Europe, although it used to be a large swamp intersected by sea inlets full of mud and mosquitoes. With an area of 370 km², the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe. The population has a long life expectancy The life expectancy of citizens in general is about 80.4 years (for women it is 83.2 while for men it is shorter 77.5 years (Eurostat). Dutch cows give the most milk. Flowers and evergreen shrubs decorate the capes and wide glass roofs on the houses. you can often see a household next to which a small house (in which birds roost) protrudes on a high pole.
- The province of Zealand was the most threatened. The city of Midelbourg is located in the province of Zealand, which is known for its pink stone monuments and its famous market (where traders are dressed in charming costumes and hats decorated with golden spirals). The Ministry of Water (Vaterstat) wanted to preserve that peaceful life.
- Work on the huge Zuiderzee dam has been completed and the state’s effort has been transferred to the endangered zone (similar to the sea fork that separates the Zeeland islands). The land in this area is divided into “polders” (limited by high dams). But the case of 1953 showed that the dams were not high and strong enough for the strongest storms. A number of long studies and tests have been carried out. It was established that rebuilding the existing dams would be useless and expensive. Then the decision was made to start realizing the grandiose and daring Delta plan. The name is explained by the fact that the backwaters (which cross Zealand are actually channels through which the Rhine and Meuse rivers flow into the Ocean). These channels are wide, winding and sometimes deep. Dutch engineers then decide to border the canals with 4 huge walls that are impassable to sea waves.
- The Delta Plan was a long-term undertaking in the Netherlands that was said not to be realized before 1985. Realizing the Delta Plan was incomparably more difficult than the dam on the Zuiderzee. This is shown by the Harigfleet Canal (through which mainly the water of the 2 rivers flows, and which will be bounded by a huge dam with countless openings – open at low tide and hermetically sealed at high tide). During the construction of the Delta dam, there was a temporary polder so that workers could carry out preparatory work for laying the foundations of this grandiose project.
- The constructors conceived and built the foundations of the Delta dam in a special way: they put woven mattresses of branches on the bottom for fear that the concrete blocks would not escape from the mud base. Engineers are sure that such foundations will withstand any storm, and they already have a huge centuries-old experience. The inhabitants of Zeeland are finally protected from the onslaught of the sea.
- The new Delta dam is the first line of defense – if it is breached, then the second line of defense (the old dam) will easily withstand the weakened water pressure. The Oosterscheldekering is the largest of the 13 dams in the Delta project
- Plan Delta (dam Delta) created a huge supply of fresh water (as the Zuiderzee turned into Lake Isel). These are beneficial consequences for the Dutch (river banks are washed by the sea and absorb salt water, which has a harmful effect on agricultural crops. This land, which is apparently so irrigated, often suffers from drought and withers after heavy watering. The new lake therefore solved that problem for the Netherlands as well ensured new wealth).
- Defensive walls and dams are also the bearers of the magnificent highways in the Netherlands (which facilitated the entire traffic. People used to use primitive means to reach certain areas of Zeeland. They were admittedly quite unfamiliar with today’s busy everyday life.
- Nevertheless, traditional customs in the Netherlands have been preserved. This can be seen, for example, in Spakenbourg – it is a colorful little pier (which was located on the former Zuiderzee). The population still preserves traditions and customs. The people of Spakenburg were famous herring hunters. The current lake only offers the possibility of hunting for eels, of which there is less traffic. That’s why most started making clogs instead of fishing. The men kept their ancestral clothes (black pants, striped blouse and beautifully colored wooden clogs, Women of all ages wear wide tunics in the shoulder area with some kind of armor along the starched lines and long skirts under which the leg is not visible.
- Most of the fishing piers in Zealand were also affected by the Delta plan, as were the oyster farmers of Jersek (who made far more famous dishes from oysters). Fishing as a very profitable industry is moving to other places in the Netherlands. At the same time, the Netherlands is the most important producer of edible shellfish in the world. Fishermen and all those who lived from fishing still survived, bravely accepting new temptations and knowing that their country Holland would forever be spared from catastrophic floods. The Delta and Zuiderzee projects are considered one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
- The project lasted more than 30 years, but it continues due to the constant dangers of the swollen sea and the consequences of climate change. The dykes are planned to protect the sea coast from a sea level rise of 1.3 meters by 2100, and a sea level rise of 4 meters by 2200.