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Delta Works

The Delta Works is a large chain of dams, storm barriers, locks, and dykes in the Netherlands.

It was built to protect the southwest of the Netherlands from floods.

A lot of the Netherlands is below sea level. In 1953, a big storm hit the country and caused a huge flood.

The floodwaters broke 89 dykes that protected the coast.

A lot of lands was flooded, buildings were destroyed and around 1,800 people were killed.

It was a terrible national disaster and it made the government realize it had to do something to protect the country from the sea and from flooding.

Just five years later, in 1958, the first of the Delta Works was complete.

The whole project was finished in 1997.

Delta Works Facts for Kids

  • A delta is an area of wetland, which forms where the mouth of the river flows out into a larger area of water, such as the sea. It forms because the river flows more slowly here and it deposits material such as clay, rock and sand. This is what forms a delta. The Delta Works protect the delta formed by the rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt.
  • As part of the project, the mouths of major rivers were blocked up and 13 dams and barriers reduced the length of the coastline by around 310 miles. The dams create barriers that stop the flow of water from the North Sea.
  • Over 895 square miles of land were created due to the Delta Works. Dams stop the flow of water into areas that had previously been covered in water. The remaining water is then pumped out until the land is dry enough to be used as farmland or to build on.
  • The entire project cost nearly five billion euros.
  • It has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
  • Some of the dams and dykes also have roads built on them, so they can act as bridges. This means that it is now easier to drive between some of the Netherlands’ islands that used to be quite isolated.
  • The Delta Works attracts a lot of tourists. Lots of school groups visit different sites to learn about the Delta Works. Visitors can even view the Delta Works from planes and helicopters, to get a better idea of how they work.
  • The Delta Works means it is much less likely that this part of the Netherlands will get badly flooded again. However, as the sea level continues to rise, the Delta Works will need to be maintained and maybe extended or changed over time.
  • The largest of the 13 dams is called the Eastern Scheldt Barrier. It is made up of 62 sliding metal doors and at around 5.6 miles long, it’s the largest flood barrier in the world. The Eastern Scheldt is not a closed barrier, but rather an open one that can be closed during a storm or when the sea levels are very high. This is important for the fishing industry in the area as it means it hasn’t lost the salt water environment of the Eastern Scheldt. There are 62 openings in the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier that let water through.

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Question: How many dams and barriers make up the Delta Works?
Answer: There are 13 of them.

Question: Why was the Delta Works built?
Answer: It was built to protect the southwest of the Netherlands from floods.