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Reinforcing an impressive Dutch dam

  • 32 kilometres of dike will be reinforced
  • 75,000 Levvel-blocs will be placed
  • 40,000 tonnes CO2 reduction in Levvel-blocs production
  • 25 years of maintenance

The Afsluitdijk Dam has protected large parts of the Netherlands against flooding from the sea and Lake IJsselmeer since 1932. After more than 85 years, the dam is in need of repair. In the next few years, several innovative features will be introduced. They will ensure that the energy neutral Afsluitdijk improves traffic safety and continues to resist the force of the water. Thanks to the efforts of Van Oord and consortium partners BAM and Rebel, the dam will soon enter the 21st century as a new icon of Dutch marine engineering and will continue protecting the Netherlands until at least 2050.

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Innovative new revetment

On the Wadden Sea side, the dam will be raised and reinforced by means of a new revetment. The consortium will use Quattroblocks on the upper slope and Levvel-blocs on most of the lower slope. Levvel-blocs, another name for the innovative XblocPlus blocks, are concrete armour units developed especially for the Afsluitdijk. Compared to the alternative, the innovative Levvel-blocs take 35% less concrete to produce. This is equal to approximately 200,000 cubic metres of concrete and means a CO2 reduction of 40,000 tonnes or no less than 56%.The blocks are being produced in a new factory. A block will leave the production hall every 9 minutes, adding up to an impressive output of at least 100 blocks a day. It will take a crane vessel up to 30 months to place all the Levvel-blocs.

For 87 years now, this iconic structure has protected a large part of our country from water. With this large-scale renovation, the Afsluitdijk will be ready for the future in four years.

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management
Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management

Flood protection

One of the dam’s most important function is to protect the hinterland against flooding. At low tide, too much water flows through the discharge sluices from lake IJsselmeer to the Wadden Sea. Due to changing climate conditions and rising sea levels, the drainage capacity is no longer sufficient. That is why extra discharge sluices and large, fish-friendly and energy-efficient pumps are being installed. Reinforced hydraulic structures and two new highwater protection locks are also part of the project.

Levvel increases the capacity to discharge water with as little energy consumption as possible: discharging when possible, pumping when necessary. Our client provided space to compensate the energy consumption with solar energy. Our solution means, we only have to use 10% of this space.

Carlos Mollet, Levvel Project Director
Carlos Mollet, Levvel Project Director

Enhancing nature

The Afsluitdijk will combine various objectives and uses. Water, the current and natural forces will be harnessed to increase the variety of species and new tourist and educational features will strengthen the regional economy. A bike path on the Wadden Sea side will be constructed and the motorway will be adjusted over more than 32 kilometres. To restore the connection between the Wadden Sea and Lake IJsselmeer for migrating fish, a migration river is being constructed. Levvel is responsible for creating the opening in the Afsluitdijk Dam. The permanent opening and the varying current should make it possible for migrating fish to swim freely from fresh to salt water and vice versa.

Sustainable employment

Besides being a reliable partner for our client, the Levvel consortium aims to create sustainable employment for the local community. During peak construction, there will be about 800 people working on and around the Afsluitdijk. Some 100 jobs are intended for people who otherwise have little chance of employment. The goal is to create sustainable employment: helping and keeping people in work. Where necessary, the consortium will offer guidance and job training.

Additional information
  • Start date
  • End date
  • Location
    Northern Netherlands
  • Business Unit
    The Netherlands
  • Client
    Rijkswaterstaat (part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management)