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Deltares is an independent research center employing more than 800 people between its headquarter in Delft and the offices and labs in Utrecht. In just a few years it has become a global leader in water management and in the prevention of the flooding and sinking risk, through the employment of innovative and nature-based solutions. Currently, the center offers advice and exports its know-how (also in relation to land and underground management) throughout the world, with a specific focus on critical areas, such as the rivers delta, coastal areas and riverbanks.
As part of its learning and coordination activities on fighting the effects of climate change, Deltares is part to several research programmes with worldwide universities, while also advocating projects involving both the academic world and other independent research centers. Its objective is to promote innovation on all levels and to create a virtuous contamination between old and new technologies to safeguard territories and peoples, particularly those in developing or risky areas, such as South America, Asia, Indonesia and the Pacific islands.
The major research and testing facilities of Deltares are located in Delft. A big pavilion hosts its 3 most important simulators: the Atlantic Basin, able to recreate waves and streams, the Delta Basins, equipped with the multidirectional wave generators able to produce random or regular waves with a variable height and, finally, the Pacific Basin similar, which uses the generation of artificial waves to observe the impact of them on coastal structures, such as dams, breakwaters and offshore structures.
Outside the pavilion, the Delta Flume allows instead the generation of narrow but potentially high waves (up to 4.5 meters) on a 300 meters corridor. Its aim is testing the impact of these on delicate, high sea infrastructures, such as wind turbines, offshore oil platforms and submarine cables.
Waste water (Process industry), Ground water (Consultancy of equipment and products, Drainage, Laboratories en Purification), Surface water (Consultancy of equipment and products, Transport, Chemical analysis, Equipment, Sludge, Treatment en Laboratories), Process water (Consultancy of equipment and products en Process industry), Sewerage (Consultancy of equipment and products en Maintenance and after sale care), Organizations (Knowledge institutes), Business Information (Internet en Trade magazines) en Infrastructure (Consultancy)
By confronting the satellite pictures of the Delfland, before and after 2011, a major difference will stand out: an artificial, sand peninsula that was not there before. It is San Motor, a major project carried out by Ecoshape consortium and numerous scientists and academics, with a coastal management purpose: face the progressive disappearance of the delicate and rare dunes ecosystem.
Beach nourishment (a worldwide practice, usually operated every 5 years) is often more harmful than beneficial: it is extremely invasive considering that nature has a slow pace of adaptation, especially when it comes to anthropogenic activities. Therefore, in the Netherlands, it was decided to do it but once, in 2011, yet with a quantity ten times bigger than usual, 21.5 billion cubic metres, to be dispersed by the action of wind and sea along the coastline.
The effects of such intervention on the environment are yet unclear, if it will foster biodiversity and tourism, or not. Even if only time will tell, the results are encouraging today, according to researchers: the Sand Motor sands have stick along over 5km of coastline, 1 million cubic metres travelled south and 1.5 million to the north, whereas dunes are not growing as fast as predicted. But in the meanwhile, the number of plants growing in the area and their extension increases: Ammophila and Elumus farctus are rather common, but not the Eryngium Martimum – a very rare plant, endangered to the limit of extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Many other animals have shown up at Sand Motor: over 50 species of birds have been observed among the dunes, among which Common Gulls, Great Cormorant, Gruiforms and Storcks.
The evolution of Sand Motor is constantly monitored by researchers thanks to the satellite TerraSAR. The experiment shall last 20 years, and in 2021 more recent data will be released.