Delta Works is a complex network of structures in the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt Delta of the Netherlands. It was designed to shorten the length of the coastline along the Netherlands, to prevent the extensive flooding and storm damage these areas were experiencing.
Construction on the Delta Works began in 1950, but these efforts were not intended to be completed at once, hence the ceasing of construction almost half a century later in 1997. The Delta Works consist of dikes, dams, storm surge barriers, sluices and locks. Oosterscheldekering is the largest structure in all of the Delta Work’s thirteen. It was originally intended to become a freshwater lake, but fishermen and environmentalist campaigners fought to keep Oosterschelekering’s estuary mouth open so that Oyster fishing could still carry on. It now has a storm surge barrier instead of a full dam.
The Delta works have been named as one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers and they are fully functioning today. Anyone can visit these structures at any time of the year, although some are only active when storm surges or other flooding threats are imminent.
The Netherlands lies to the North-West of Europe, protected from the North Atlantic Ocean only by the United Kingdom. ‘Nether’ means ‘low’, which reflects its position in Europe; it is the ‘low lands’ which are susceptible for flooding, hence the need for the Delta Works.
This country is home to tourist destinations Amsterdam and Rotterdam where there is a rich culture and many traditions. Besides visiting the storm surge barriers, sluices, locks, dams and dikes of the Delta works you may also wish to stay in one of these two cities for a short weekend or even a week long break.
Although the Delta Works had been in construction for three years by this time, they were not quite built up enough to prevent the terrible flooding in the Netherlands in 1953 when around 2000 people unfortunately died. There has been minimal flooding since then, and each of the Delta Works structures is expected to prevent flooding for a minimum of 250 years.
The total cost to build every one of the Delta Works structures is estimated at $7 billion. An immense 15% of this cost ($105 million) went on primary research to ensure that the structures were being built in the correct places to prevent flooding from happening again.
How to Get There:
KLM is the main and national airliner serving the Netherlands, but there is a range of airports you can travel to, depending on which of the Delta Works you wish to see. Amsterdam Schipol is quite far from the Delta Works area, although you may wish to stay there for a few days to look around the metropolitan city. Much nearer the Delta Works themselves is Zeeland airport; there is easy access from here to the A58 from here also, so you can rent a car after your flight in order to get around.
Where to Stay:
If you choose to stay in Amsterdam before seeing the Delta Works then one budget option is the Best Western Apollo Museumhotel, or there is a luxury option of the Barbizon Palace Hotel; just over the road from the train station that takes you directly to Amsterdam Schipol airport.
By the Delta Works themselves you can stay at the three star Golden Tulip Westduin in Vlissingen (a pretty, Dutch beach town) from $118 per night, or alternatively there is the four star luxury option at Amadore Grand Hotel Arion (also situated in Vlissingen) from $233 per night.
There are both bus and boat commercial tours that take visitors around each of the Delta Works structures all year round. They provide food and drinks, as well as a tour guide fluent in English and Dutch and these tours usually stop at optimal viewpoints next to the dams, locks, sluices, dikes and storm surge barriers so they can be seen and photographed easily.