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Completion of Grensmaas works

After the record floods of 1993 and 1995 and the accompanying floods in the Maastricht- Lanaken Maasmechelen areas of Belgium and the Netherlands, it was clear that preventive measures were urgently required to prevent such disasters in the future.

Construction & Infra
De Scheepvaart
Maastricht-Lanaken-Maasmechelen
2009-2011

After the record floods of 1993 and 1995 and the accompanying floods in the Maastricht- Lanaken Maasmechelen areas of Belgium and the Netherlands, it was clear that preventive measures were urgently required to prevent such disasters in the future.

Increasing the height of the existing dikes was not an option, since that would raise the water level of the Meuse and put additional pressure on the subsoil. That would lead to water rising behind the dikes through the highly permeable surface. The only possibility was to allow the river more space so that when the water becomes higher, a greater outflow is possible at the same flow rate. An additional and not unimportant concern is preventing the river bed from drying up during dry periods, as that would adversely affect the groundwater levels.

Almost two million m³ of earth and gravel resistance
The existing river bed therefore had to be left untouched, but barriers also needed to be added. That left no option but to greatly widen the riverbed, starting at a level approximately 70 cm higher than the existing bedding. To achieve this, 1,860,000 m³ of earth and gravel was shifted in several places along a total of nineteen miles length on the Meuse. Throughout, protecting the existing and future habitat of the local flora and fauna was paramount. Not only have we created dozens of hectares of natural reserve, we have also added spawning area and fish ladders on the bottom of the Meuse. In addition, a part of the riverbed which had become heavily eroded was covered with armor rock 30 meters wide and over a length of 1.6 kilometres. We mined and sorted and transported by truck and ship the 135,000 tonnes of rubble that we needed for this, taking it from the quarries in the Liege Meuse basin to the Kotem and Meers villages. Many people were witness to spectacular sights during this project's progression.

We offer our thanks and congratulations to all those who contributed, and who literally carried a very heavy load indeed. Over the past three years, we have written history, and we can certainly look back on that with pride!