Water safety in the Netherlands increased enormously when the Afsluitdijk (completed in 1932) was built. Instead of approximately 300 kilometres of coast (Zuider Zee) that was difficult to protect, there was now a 32 kilometre safe dike (actually a dam).
At the same time the freshwater IJsselmeer lake was created, making it possible to reclaim new land for agriculture and housing behind the safety of the dike. That had never been done before. So it is certainly not surprising that the Dutch Delta Design is a well-known concept worldwide and a few of its most precious gems can be admired in the Wadden area.
The Afsluitdijk is now part of the Friese Waterdriehoek (Frisian water triangle). The Afsluitdijk is there to keep us safe from the water. The Ir. D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station (UNESCO World Heritage) and the fresh water inlet adjacent to it, the Teroelster kolk (water is let in here in times of draught) for water (level) management. And Wetterskip Fryslân ensures the quality of fresh water: clean, sufficient and safe.
After more than 85 years of trusty service the Afsluitdijk is getting a reboot. With the rising sea levels the Afsluitdijk must be able to continue to protect the Dutch against extreme weather conditions; whether the water threat is from the sea or the rivers. Therefore the decision was made to strengthen the dike and increase its spraying capacity with strong, built-in pumps. Now more than ever testing grounds Afsluitdijk stands for innovation, sustainability and busy connections with the surrounding region.
Afsluitdijk Wadden Center
You can enjoy all these old and new stories at the Afsluitdijk Wadden Center near Kornwerderzand. Visitors are provided with information about the Wadden Sea, the unique fish migration river, the IJsselmeer region, sustainable energy projects and not to forget the Afsluitdijk itself.
With an exposition about how the Dutch people have lived and thrived in the Delta throughout the centuries and a focus on climate change and rising sea levels. This hospitable centre is the gateway to the coastal area of Northern Holland and the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage Site.