Afsluitdijk dam gets a makeover

Afsluitdijk dam. Credit: Van Oord

Work has commenced on reinforcing the Afsluitdijk dam flood defence project in the Netherlands. The dam was built to protect large parts of the country against flooding from the sea and the IJsselmeer freshwater lake – a closedoff inland bay. 

However, after more than 85 years in service, the 32-km dam no longer meets current requirements for flood protection and water discharge and requires major reconstruction. 

The project involves installation of 75,000 newly developed sustainable concrete blocks with a special design, which requires less concrete compared with previously used designs.  

Additionally, new drainage locks and two large pumping stations are planned to be installed at the drainage complex located at Den Oever at the southwest end. 

About 100 concrete blocks will be produced each day in the port of Harlingen, transported by ship to the causeway and installed by pontoon crane. 

The concrete blocks are planned to be placed on top of the basalt blocks, which were used to construct the causeway originally. 

The work will ensure that sufficient water can be drained from the IJsselmeer into the Wadden Sea, an intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Seaforming a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands.   

The EUR550 million (USD607 million) contract for the work was awarded to Levvel, a consortium of Van Oord Aberdeen Infrastructure Partners, BAM PPP PGGM Infrastructure Coöperatie, and RebelValley. 

The consortium received the design, build, and finance contract in 2018 from Rijkswaterstaat, which is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. 

Under the terms of the contract, the consortium is responsible for 25 years’ maintenance of the strengthened Afsluitdijk, with work planned to be completed by the end of 2022.