The Sand Motor
SandMotor: Flood protection with nature
The SandMotor protects the Dutch coast and creates an additional 128 ha of space for nature and recreation.
Every year, the sea takes sand from the Dutch coast. Every five years, Rijkswaterstaat replenishes the shortfall by depositing sand on the beaches and in the offshore area. If we didn’t, the west of the Netherlands, which is below sea level, would be exposed to the sea.
By building the Sand Motor, a peninsula on the Dutch coast, we try to find out whether nature can spread sand along the coast for us. It goes without saying that the Dutch government is not experimenting with the safety of its people: the coastal defenses are at maximum strength now the Sand Motor has done its job.
Besides coast protection, the project creates an additional 128 ha of space for nature and recreation.
In flood protection, the dominant paradigm of ‘building hard structures’ is being challenged by approaches that integrate ecosystem dynamics and are ‘nature-based’. Knowledge development and policy ambitions on greening flood protection (GFP) are rapidly growing, but a deficit remains in actual full-scale implementation.
The SandMotor is a large-scale (21.5 Mm3) sand nourishment project. This project confirms that an integrated knowledge arrangement enables GFP as it allows for multi-functionality. Effectiveness of the integrated arrangement in this project is explained by its ‘flexible’ nature providing ample design space. This was possible because core values in flood protection and nature were not part of the integrated arrangement.
Between March 2011 and November 2011, Rijkswaterstaat and the provincial authority of Zuid-Holland created the hook-shaped peninsula. It extends 1 km into the sea and is 2 km wide where it joins the shore.
Trailing suction hopper dredgers picked up the sand ten kilometers off the coast and took it to the right place. Two offshore replenishment locations alongside the peninsula are also part of the Sand Motor. The SandMotor project can be regarded as a ‘field laboratory’ of physical and institutional learning and an innovation for mainstream flood protection.