The Netherlands – Afsluitdijk


The number 350 bus from Leeuwarden to Alkmaar takes an unusual route: straight across 32 kilometres of sea. I hopped on board for a visit to the famous Afsluitdijk.    The Afsluitdijk is the ideal testing ground for innovative and sustainable energy sources. Wind, sun, water, it’s all there. At the Afsluitdijk we are using water currents and the confluence of fresh and salt water to produce energy.   .. .. Some 90 years ago thousands of hands built the Afsluitdijk, stone by stone. We are proud of the dike’s history and therefore we will cherish the original design by Cornelis Lely and the monumental structures such as the bridge towers designed by architect Dirk Roosenburg, which are a national heritage site.

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2916 – – – – – The new Afsluitdijk, the largest pumping station in Europe

The Afsluitdijk has protected the Netherlands against the sea for over 80 years. To ensure our safety in the future, Rijkswaterstaat will reinforce the Afsluitdijk and construct pumps in the locks to enhance the drainage of excess water from the IJsselmeer. This will make the Afsluitdijk the largest pumping station in Europe. Regional governments, working together under the name “De Nieuwe Afsluitdijk”, have formulated ambitions for economic development, ecology and renewable energy. Those can be realized simultaneously with the refurbishment of the Afsluitdijk. De Nieuwe Afsluitdijk and the government are working closely together to ensure a safe, sustainable, attractive and future-proof dike. The implementation of the project is planned from 2018.


This video shows an improved 3D impression of the Fishmigrationriver.

Research en development have resulted into a new design. The fishmigrationriver is a unique concept that will enable fish to migrate from the Wadden Sea to the IJsselmeer and back while preventing salt water to enter the freshwater basin. The construction of the Afsluitdijk in 1932 resulted in an ecological disaster for the Wadden Sea and the Zuiderzee .

The Zuiderzee’s mix of brackish and salt water became purely fresh water. The tide disappeared. And also the migratory fish species suddenly found the route to their Zuiderzee spawning grounds blocked. These fish species used to mate in the brackish water of the Zuiderzee. After the Afsluitdijk was constructed, their populations collapsed. The Directorate of Public Works and Water Management is now planning major maintenance works for the Afsluitdijk, starting in 2016.

The dike will be strengthened and reinforced. Regional stakeholders are seizing this opportunity to put forward this plan for the restoration of the ecological balance. And, at the same time, to improve the quality of nature reserves and recreational areas. No other country has anything like this Fishmigrationriver, although about 200 comparable situations exist throughout the world. By investing now in further development of the Fishmigrationriver, the Dutch water management sector will acquire unique expertise. Therefore, the Fishmigrationriver also has international potential.


The fish migration river is a kilometres-long meandering river that will allow fish to swim straight through the Afsluitdijk. It is an innovative project aimed at restoring the open connection between the IJsselmeer and the Wadden Sea. We expect that millions of migratory fish, such as the sea trout, salmon, the river lamprey, the eel and the European flounder will use this river in the future. Doing right by the ecosystem.


The Afsluitdijk will be heightened and it will be given a new top layer. We will place 75.000 ultramodern concrete blocks of 6.5 thousand kilograms each on the flanks of the dike. These blocks will break the waves in case of a storm and they are designed to preserve the spectacular simplicity that gives the dike its unique character.

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Opening en sluiten van de bruggen in de Afsluitdijk bij Kornwerderzand. Opnamen gemaakt mbv drone, dji phantom.




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Sluiting van De Vlieter, het laatste sluitgat van de Afsluitdijk, 1932.

Sluiting van De Vlieter, het laatste sluitgat van de Afsluitdijk, 1932


The motorway in the sea … Afsluitdijk

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