The Zuyder Zee Project/Ijssel Meer Reclamation Scheme.
The project as started in 1927 to reclaim the southern sea (Zuyder Zee). Initial reclamation started by building the main ring dyke (32 km long and 7 metres above sea level) known as the Great Dyke joining the Netherlands through the Wieringen Island to the Friesland coast .
The construction took 5 years (1927- 1932). The water enclosed by the dyke was drained away to form Lake Yssel. The lake is currently a freshwater lake because it is connected to river Rhine.
The whole project comprises five polders totaling 220,000 ha of arable land. Crops produced in the polders include barley, wheat, rye, potatoes, beet root, oats, vegetables and fruits.
Benefits of Zuyder Zee project
a) Creation of large freshwater lake in the middle of the country e.g. Lake Yssel which provide fresh water to the province of North Holland and Friesland for irrigation/domestic/industrial purposes.
b) Reclaimed polders have attracted towns that have improved infrastructure and social amenities. e.g. roads have been constructed.
c) The great dyke upon which a road has been build connecting north and South Holland has shortened the coastline distance by about 320km.
d) The old dykes form a second line of protection against tides such that the new dykes are cheaper to maintain.
e) The reclaimed land has increased arable land by about 10% of the total land. The land is fertile and suitable for arable agriculture.
f) The degree of soil salinity in the polders has been lowered by the fresh water from Lake Yssel that seeps down from the lake into the surrounding areas to dilute the salts.
g) The fresh water reservoir serves as a catchment basin during winter when the water levels on the other side prevent natural drainage.
h) Project reduced the risk of flooding in the area through the use of dykes, canals, ditches and pumping stations.
i) The Project is a tourist attraction earning foreign exchange.
j) Road connection between the provinces of North Holland and Friesland has been shortened.
k) Creation of employment opportunities from reclamation activities.