Rijkswaterstaat will start this week with the largest sand operation ever in the Netherlands. In the coming months, some three million cubic meters of new sand will be added to the beach at Hollum.
It is already the second time in four years that a huge pile of sand has been added to the westernmost tip of Ameland. That is earlier than estimated in advance, but the situation is “quite extreme”, says Robert Zijlstra of Rijkswaterstaat at Omrop Fryslân.
The storms of February last year washed away large parts of the beach. High water caused a lot of additional damage. “At Ameland there is also a channel quite close to the coast,” says Zijlstra. “During storms and high water, that channel takes more sand with it than in other places.”
The consequences are visible. In some places, more than three meters of beach have disappeared. Beach pavilion The Sunset is a lot closer to the sea in one go. The concrete road plates of the beach crossing at Paal 2 have sunk completely, so that cars can no longer reach the beach.
So Rijkswaterstaat is going to collect sand from the North Sea and bring it to Ameland. Zijlstra: “That sand will be placed on a ship that will be moored just off the coast of Ameland. The sand will be pressed onto the beach via a tube.”
The work is expected to last until August. This also has consequences for beachgoers. “Usually we don’t continue working in the summer period, because of all the recreation,” says Zijlstra. “But in good consultation with the municipality, we have decided to do that now. Then it can be ready for the next storm season.”
Rijkswaterstaat assumes that the stretch of beach at Paal 2 – the busiest part of the beach – will be ready before the summer. After that, the beach between posts 3, 4 and 5 will be tackled – with part of the area temporarily inaccessible.”
Sea level rise
Zijlstra thinks that the solution of moving sand will work for the time being. “We are perfectly capable of continuing to do this, we are not yet at an unsustainable point. But if we look to the future, with sea level rise, for example, we may have to do more.”
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