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Waterpoort & the salinization of Lake Volkerak-Zoom
Waterpoort is an area in the provinces of Zeeland, North Brabant and South Holland. Lake Volkerak-Zoom is situated its centre. After the Delta Works were built, this lake became a freshwater basin. There has been an issue with the water quality of the freshwater lake Volkerak-Zoom. There is turbidity, the nitrogen and phosphate levels are too high and there has been a growth of blue-green algae in the shallow parts of the lake. All this decreased the ecology and vitality of the area. In order to improve the water quality, it was announced in the Implementation Programme to salinate Lake Volkerak-Zoom and to restore the tides to an extent in order to increase the oxygen level in the water and to remove the algae. The question is: who and what else will be affected by this salinization? What do the different water users such as farmers and water sports enthusiasts think of this proposed salinization and how should they deal with it?

Water-sensitive area development
One of the biggest challenges in the upcoming decades is the change in the water system. In order to change the Waterpoort area into a robust, vital and confident region, in parallel with the salinization, municipalities have co-operated with provinces, water boards, area managers, ZLTO and the business and education sector, and have entered a partnership called 'Waterpoort werkt' [Waterpoort works]. Together, these parties want the initiatives and the implementation of the area development to come from society and they want the government to have a facilitating role.

Research into water users
Research group Resilient Deltas contributes by carrying out research into the vulnerabilities and possibilities of adaption of the user groups of the changing water system. Researchers and students are doing this by assessing and analysing the impact on the water users.

During first phase of the project, the research group has created a users atlas. This atlas provides insight into the dependency of the water users on the water system which currently exists of fresh water. The water users can be divided into 5 themes: transport & industry, nature, recreation, agriculture and fishing & aquaculture. The assessment shows the diversity in freshwater use. You can take a look at the Atlas of Waterpoort here!

During the second phase, the vulnerabilities and the adaption possibilities of the user groups with regard to salinization have been analysed. Students worked on the case studies of water users that resulted from this phase during an interim phase.

During the final phase, the findings of the research have been summarised in the Atlas of Waterpoort. It is a compendium of research results with regard to the relationship between user groups and the changing water system. The interested reader is given an overview of the historical developments in the area in three thematic chapters. These are followed by an explanation that is based on the water-sensitive area development model of the scheduled alterations to the water system on a spatial, socio-economical and ecological scale. It shows the effect of the interventions on the surrounding area, the users of the water system and their possible anticipation and adaptation measures.

The Atlas can serve as a basis for water-sensitive area development to transform the special cohesion of the Waterpoort from the bottom up and change it into a resilient delta area.


Jean-Marie Buijs Resilient Deltas researcher
Lukas Papenborg Resilient Deltas researcher