Every year the sea carries sand away from the Dutch coast. Rijkswaterstaat complements this every five years with sand dumping (sand replenishment) on the beach and off the coast. If we didn't do that, the sea would pose a threat to the west of the Netherlands, which is below sea level. The five-year sand replenishment works, but can coastal protection not be more sustainable and natural?
With the construction of the Sand Motor, a peninsula off the coast of Ter Heijde, we are investigating whether nature can spread the sand for us along the coast. Naturally, the Netherlands is not experimenting with the safety of its residents, the coastal defense is at full strength when the Sand Motor is installed.
Between March 2011 and November 2011, Rijkswaterstaat and the province of South Holland built the peninsula in the form of a hook. The peninsula protrudes one kilometer far into the sea and is two kilometers wide on the beach. Trailing suction hopper dredgers have taken the sand ten kilometers from the coast. Two underwater nourishments on either side of the peninsula are also part of the Sand Motor.
The Sand Motor is a good example of building with nature. By dumping a large amount of sand in one go, we prevent repeated disturbance of the vulnerable seabed. Nature places the sand in the right place for us.
An experiment such as the Sand Motor has never been performed before. With this pilot project, the Netherlands continues to set the standard in water management. By working precisely with the water, instead of against the water.
Read more about this experiment on the De Zandmotor website (in Dutch).