Delta Technology

Delta technology enables life in the delta and prime examples of delta technology in action include the sand engine and the creation of land in the sea at Maasvlakte II. There are also many applications overseas, in cities where water poses a threat, such as New Orleans, New York, and St Petersburg.

Dutch water expertise helps solve global water issues

In 2050 80% of the global population will live in delta cities or coastal areas. Climate change, expanding economies, and urbanisation are putting the world’s delta populations at risk. Dutch expertise is at hand, however, in the form of hydraulic engineering, flood control, flood protection, foundation technology and infrastructure. For the Dutch, water has always been friend and foe. It’s in their DNA. From the early middle ages onward, the Dutch reclaimed and defended land from the sea. The Dutch are renowned for their ability to design and build storm surge barriers and levees, reclaim land through high-tech dredging and engineer entire coastal areas and harbours. The Dutch also excel at river engineering and maintenance and are pioneering climate adaptive construction, which allows houses to be built in flood-prone areas.

Building with nature

Deltas and low-lying coastal areas are constantly faced with threat from the sea. Traditionally, the Netherlands has embraced this threat rather than confronting it. The key is to work with nature by using the natural power of the sea. 

Key aspects and strengths

  • Two-thirds of the Netherlands would flood if it weren’t for flood protection structures, integrated coastal development and river basin management. Experience in this area, built up over the course of centuries, is in great demand worldwide. Dutch delta technology specialists are currently aiding in the reconstruction of levees in New Orleans and have built flood protection systems in London, Venice and St. Petersburg and New York.
  • The Dutch are renowned for their integrated water management and multi-disciplinary approach that balances social, economic, environmental and engineering needs. Dutch companies are involved in the sustainable development of low-lying urban agglomerations such as Jakarta and Bangladesh, and coastal development in areas such as Dubai, Vietnam, Mozambique and Romania.
  • The Dutch invest heavily in innovation and R&D through public-private partnerships that align the interests and resources of government, business and research partners. These include renowned institutes such as Deltares and Wetsus. Large Dutch private firms are also recognised for their cutting-edge R&D.
  • There is strong institutional support and active public-private cooperation that focuses on international cooperation and the creation of water networks. Committed to a better approach to international water management, the Dutch government has signed bilateral agreements to advance integrated water management in countries across the globe.

Facts & Figures

  • The Dutch Delta Works are listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest flood defence project in the world. With some 16,500 kilometres of levees and 300 structures, it is one of the most extensive engineering projects in the world. The Oosterscheldedam is the largest single tidal barrier in the world, at 9 km in length.
  • 40% of the freely accessible market for water management is in Dutch hands.
  • The Netherlands is home to the world’s ten best engineering firms in the field of water and to two world leaders in land reclamation, dredging and coastal construction. Skilled NGOs operate worldwide in the field of water and international cooperation. Research institutes, universities and (local) government maintain a high standard of knowledge and management. If necessary, Dutch organizations will form alliances to deliver tailor-made solutions.
  • Around 2,000 companies are active in the Dutch water sector, of which 500 in delta technology. Together with Belgium, The Netherlands is world leader in Delta technology with two big players: Van Oord and Boskalis.
  • Turnover of the Dutch water sector (domestic market and export) was € 16.4 billion in 2008, of which 57% was earned by water technology companies. Exports amounted to € 6.5 billion that same year