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 Building with Nature Guideline > Projects > Sand nourishment - Sand Engine Workumerwaard, IJsselmeer, NL

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Sand nourishment - Sand Engine Workumerwaard, IJsselmeer, NL


Location: Frisian coast of Lake IJsselmeer near the Workumerwaard
Date: Construction in the summer of 2011, monitoring and evaluation on-going
Involved parties: It Fryske Gea, Province of Fryslan, Wetterskip Fryslân, Municipalities, Directorate-General Rijkswaterstaat of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Ecoshape.

Technology Readiness Level: 5 (Large scale prototype tested in intended environment)

Environment: Lakes and rivers, Sandy Shores
Keywords: sand engine, Workumerwaard, shore nourishment



Building with Nature designTraditional design

Natural or semi-natural wetlands in front of existing lake dikes may help dissipate wave energy, thus reducing the probability of wave-induced over topping. Moreover, such wetlands are valuable nature areas and popular places for recreation. In order to maintain and revitalize such a wetland, a concentrated shore face nourishment ('soft sand engine') is placed roughly 500 m offshore of the Workumerwaard. The design utilities the wave-induced sediment transport to gradually bring the sediment onshore. Furthermore  bio-engineers  are stimulated to grow on the new sediments, thus preventing erosion. 

To reduce the storm-related risk of flooding in  Delta Lakes and Reservoirs, traditional and proven technology is to strengthen existing dikes. This usually involves raising as well as broadening the dike, which can have a profound impact on the landscape, nature and cultural values in the vicinity. Despite the fact that dike strengthening enhances the safety level of a given area, its impacts on landscape and user functions can trigger adverse reactions from local stakeholders.



A concentrated shore face nourishment ('soft sand engine') is used to maintain and revitalize a natural wetland in front of the main flood defense to maintain or enhance flood safety in the hinterland, to create new habitat and to provide opportunities for nature. Of the three soft sand engines planned in Lake IJsselmeer, the one near the Workumerwaard is the only one that is fully functional and is currently being monitored and evaluated.

 June 2011 marked the beginning of the construction of the first soft sand engine in Lake IJsselmeer, These sand engines are meant to enable the coast to adjust to a gradually rising water level and stronger water level variations. The implementation is governed by a coalition of regional and national actors, led by It Fryske Gea (Association of nature conservation in Friesland, The Netherlands). The objective of the experiment is to test the functioning and effectiveness of such a concentrated shore nourishment in combination with bio-engineers.

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Inception phase

Building with Nature was asked to initiate experiments on innovative solutions for the coast and to ease relations between parties with different interests.

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Planning and design

The Workumerwaard is the first of three experimental sites where a sand engine was to be tested. One of these (Hindeloopen) has been cancelled after stakeholder protests, the other has recently (2013) been implemented.

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Construction of the soft sand machine

Friday March 18th, 2011 marked the official start of the pilot project designing and monitoring the Sand engine Workumerwaard.

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Operation and Maintenance

  1. Monitoring and evaluation

  2. LiDAR height model

  3. Bathymetric survey

  4. Fibre optic distributed temperature sensing

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Lessons Learned

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