Elevation of the water barrier

The Scheldt Quays become submerged during every heavy storm tide. And due to its location on the Scheldt, Antwerp is extremely prone to flooding. After the storm tide of 1976, a water barrier was built. This barrier consisted of a concrete wall, 5.5 kilometres long and 1.35 metres high. Climate change and rising sea levels have made it necessary to elevate this water barrier. We will begin this project after the stabilisation of the quay wall is complete.

The water barrier will be elevated by 90 centimetres. Protecting Antwerp from flooding is the most important function of the water barrier. But a construction like this also determines the view from the quays. That is why we are combining these works as much as possible with the renovation of the entire quay structure.

Types of water barriers

Depending on the zone, various types of water barrier are possible:

  • Fixed water barriers are water barriers that cannot move. Levees, slopes, buildings and even street furniture can all be used as fixed water barriers. This traditional type of water barrier is still the type most often used on Flemish and international waterways. With these barriers, the probability of failure is much less than with mobile water barriers, and that is why fixed barriers are often preferred.
  • Mobile water barriers can move. They only become operational when there is a risk of flooding. Furthermore, mobile water barriers do not block the beautiful views of the river. At the Antwerp city centre zones, the accessibility and the panoramic views of the river from the city are of primary importance. Therefore, in those zones we chose mobile water barriers.
Mobile gateways at the Zuiderterras (infographic visualisation) © PROAP

Mobile water barriers, however, are not suitable for use along the entire length of the quay. We are still investigating where each type of barrier should be implemented for maximum safety and reliability.