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Barrier dam also prerequisite to reclaimed fertile polders

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

KORNWERDERZAND The Afsluitdijk, a 32.5-kilometre long barrier dam doubles as a major highway. It has saved the inland coastal regions of the Zuiderzee (now the Ijsselmeer) much anxiety over potential flooding since it was completed 75 years ago in 1932. The barrier dike took over five years to build, and employed thousands of labourers and at the time was a world-class engineering feat. Widespread inland coastal flooding in 1918 renewed the pressure to tame the frequently hostile Zuiderzee for which plans had been prepared in 1891. Additionally, Dutch engineers hoped to reclaim lost land from the Zuiderzee for agricultural use which would have been very difficult if the inland sea had not been tamed first. Since 1932, several polders with prime agricultural land have successfully been added to the Dutch land base. These days, tourism agencies are exploring ways to draw foreign visitors to the barrier dam to yet another marvel of Dutch know-how and engineering.