Levees, Dikes and Water defences


The Dutch have been building water defences for a thousand years now. No other country has such an enormous wealth of experience on this subject. Deltares is at the centre of this web of knowledge. We are specialised in literally every part of every type of dike, quay, dam or dune. This makes The Netherlands the global leader in the fight against – and in living with – water.

Fighting water

The saying is: God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland. The Dutch are proud to think that there's a lot of truth in that. More than half the country was reclaimed from below sea level and the fight against the water continues every day. The Netherlands has more than 3000 polders, i.e. areas located below the surrounding water levels. That equals half the total surface area of the polders in Europe.

Increasingly complex

We are being tested constantly: by more extreme weather conditions, larger river flows and rising sea levels. Also these days, dikes do more than just keep out water and urbanisation makes the challenges facing us ever more complex. All this makes it imperative to develop reliable water defences.


Deltares is the key player in the design, testing and management of this special infrastructure. Our employees know all there is to know about every factor: from the structure of dikes to the covering and the subsurface. And of course from the loads on the dikes to the required strength. It is the integration of all these factors that determines the ultimate reliability of water defences.

Field laboratories

We develop standards and guidelines, but also innovative techniques and computer models: challenging, sustainable and reliable. We test and validate these innovations in our own modelling facilities and field laboratories, such as the smart levee facility (IJkdijk). We team up with water managers, universities, knowledge institutes and companies in The Netherlands and abroad.


Smart Levee

More information

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