Yacht & Coast


Ending a national disgrace. Finally. Slowly

February 6, 2013 by robert in Environment, Featured with 0 Comments

AMSTERDAM – After years of dawdling, the murky Markermeer lake off Amsterdam is headed for a makeover ending years of silting that has killed off much bird and aquatic life. The Dutch Nature Preservation Society has attracted €45 million _ from a nation-wide lottery and the government _ to start preparing for a  rejuvenation project, called the “Marker Shoals.” The project will be built along the Houtribdijk causeway, the lake’s northern boundary. It involves digging silt-trapping trenches, creating marshlands, shoals, an artificial reef and building up a large island from silt dredged from the lake bottom. 

“We count on regional and local governments to kick in another €30 million. We hope the works can start in late 2014,” says Heleen Paalvast of the Natuurmonumenten preservation society.

The lake was created in the 1970s when wresting land from water was still a national fascination. But once dammed off, draining the lake proved unpopular. That led to years of fence-sitting and debate while the water quality deteriorated. Today, even modest winds stir up silt from the lake bottom turning the water a guacamole-green. There is no significant bird or fish life. A layer of silt covers the bottom of the lake that lacks natural drainage (aerial photo).
Pushing the Dutch into gear, finally, are EU environmental directives. “The Markermeer is one of Europe’s largest freshwater lakes (but) it’s natural condition is in trouble. The time to act is now,” the preservation society said in a mid-2012 report. It foresees an archipelago of reef-protected islands spanning 10,000 hectares, lagoons, mud flats, marshes, beaches and “nourishing swamps.”

The cleanup appeals to the Dutch yachting sector if it yields good boating opportunities, says Gerdina Krijger, a spokeswoman for the Dutch boating lobby HISWA. She adds over the years “a slew of projects” have been proposed for things like a bridge, power pylons, housing, wind parks and even no-go areas. “There is no overall vision” for the Markermeer, says Krijger. Perhaps the Marker Shoals can change that.



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