Our country is a country of resilience. For centuries we have faced increasingly higher levels of water. And with each challenge we come out on top. By constantly looking ahead, we're the safest delta in the world. Thirty years ago, Rijkswaterstaat built the Oosterschelde storm surge barrier. Our country's largest Delta Works: no less than nine kilometres long. We did this for our own safety, and for that of future generations. An enormous task that took us about ten years to complete. Step by step, a solid foundation emerged beneath our feet. We showed real backbone, and our years of hard work produced an impressive result. It may seem perfectly normal... the Oosterschelde storm surge barrier protecting hundreds of thousands of people against high water. But that it's possible with just a push of a button is simply amazing. To keep it this way, after 30 years of faithful operation the Oosterschelde storm surge barrier is undergoing a major renovation. We will wrap the gates and give them a new protective layer. Together with expert partners we work on the safety, accessibility and quality of life in the Netherlands. Together, we build the Netherlands.
Eastern Scheldt Barrier
The Eastern Scheldt Barrier is the crown jewel of the Delta Works. This imposing, 9-kilometre structure seals off the Oosterschelde whenever there is a threat of flooding.
9 km long, 3 of which can be closed
The Eastern Scheldt Barrier connects the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland in Zeeland. Built between 1976 and 1986, it is the largest and most extensive storm surge barrier in the Netherlands.
Construction of the Eastern Scheldt Barrier
The Eastern Scheldt Barrier is a remarkable feat of engineering. When it was built, it set new benchmarks in terms of scale and dimension. And it is still unparalleled. Indeed, Eastern Scheldt Barrier is a globally recognised landmark in hydraulic engineering.
Facts and figures about the Eastern Scheldt Barrier
The Eastern Scheldt Barrier:
- is closed once a year on average
- is designed to withstand a flood that is statistically unlikely to occur more than once in 4.000 years
- has 65 colossal piers, separated by floodgates that are approximately 42 m wide and 6 to 12 m high, each weighing between 260 and 480 tonnes
Special team for operation
Rijkswaterstaat has a special team to operate the barrier. The team is assisted with crucial information from the Hydro Meteo Centre, based on its predictions and measurements.
The Eastern Scheldt Barrier is closed when the water level is expected to rise to 3 m above NAP
Closing the barrier
We close the Eastern Scheldt Barrier when the water level is forecast to rise to more than 3 metres above NAP (Normal Amsterdam Level roughly aligning with the North Sea’s average level). At the push of a button, all 62 floodgates are lowered from the operations centre at ir. J.W. Topshuis on the artificial island of Neeltje Jans.
It takes 82 minutes to close them all. There Barrier has an automated emergency system on standby as well - though there has never been a need to use it.
Video: the largest of the Dutch Delta Works
By constantly looking ahead, the Netherlands now has the safest delta in the world. Rijkswaterstaat built the Eastern Scheldt Barrier 30 years ago. Covering 9 kilometres, it is the largest of our country’s Delta Works. It protects hundreds of thousands of people from flooding.
To keep it that way, the Eastern Scheldt Barrier is undergoing major renovations. Together with our competent partners, we are working on safety, accessibility and quality of life in the Netherlands.
Plan your visit to the Eastern Scheldt Barrier
If you are interested in seeing the Eastern Scheldt Barrier with your own eyes, then visit Deltapark Neeltje Jans. The Watersnoodmuseum at Ouwerkerk is also worth a visit. This museum is dedicated to the North Sea flood of 1953 and the Delta Works.
You can learn more about these events, the strengthening of the dikes and the repair work that had been done.