Can we design a flood defense landscape that offers space for nature, recreation, innovative forms of agriculture and housing, and that provides long-term safety?
The Oosterschelde is sensitive to sea level rise
Sea levels may rise faster than expected. With a further rising sea level, the Eastern Scheldt will experience accelerated loss of intertidal areas (plates, mud flats, salt marshes, salt marshes) and the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland and North and South Beveland will have to deal with increasing salinization of the groundwater and surface. water. An important choice is whether the Oosterschelde can remain a lockable open system in the long term or will have to be closed by a dam. By adjusting the closing regime of the Oosterscheldekering to higher water levels, the lifespan can be extended, but that does mean that the flood defenses in the underlying area will have to be strengthened and that the intertidal area will be under further pressure due to higher water levels and continuing sand hunger.
Adaptation as an opportunity
The rise in sea level has major consequences, but it also offers new opportunities for the ecological system, recreation, innovative agriculture and the position of ports and historic residential areas on the Oosterschelde. Ports, bridges, quays and recreational houses located outside the dykes will have to be adapted and the dikes may need to be strengthened. Fortunately, we still have time: a possible acceleration of the sea level rise will only be noticeable from 2050. That does not mean that we do not have to do anything for the time being, but that we must use the time wisely to develop new knowledge, concepts and strategies with which we can anticipate change in time and develop as much added value as possible for a viable and resilient delta.
Design research on the edges of the area
Everything comes together at the edges. The question is which new combinations of water safety, nature development, agriculture, aquaculture and recreation or energy generation are necessary to adapt in time to rising sea levels and to increase the liveability of the Oosterschelde in the long term. Together with students from TU Delft, Utrecht University, Wageningen University and the universities of applied sciences Rotterdam and Zeeland, we are working on concrete proposals for multifunctional flood defense zones on Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland.
For 5 months, students from different disciplines work together with experts to further research concepts for the flood defense zone. The students conduct independent research and interim results are presented and ideas are further exchanged. The results will be presented before the summer.