Protecting Baltrum’s coast

After a surge in storms between 2006 and 2008, the island of Baltrum off the coast of East Frisia in Germany has improved the stability and functioning of its coastal protection system.

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" The west of the island had been protected by a construction which was last repaired in 1975. The storm surges of recent years show that the protection of the island could not be permanently guaranteed. The measures implemented under this project mean the island is once again safe. "

Theo van Hoorn, Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten-und Naturschutz

Firstly, by using computer models, coastal engineers were able to determine which wave heights would be expected during storm surges. They also took into account rising sea levels due to climate change.

The engineers then set out to determine whether the current construction could withstand the pressure of the expected waves. Results showed that it couldn’t and the island could become flooded under certain storm surges. In short, Baltrum’s existing defences were not adequate, and in severe storm surges, not effective.

To protect the island, an existing revetment was renovated to the west of the island and more recently, the eastern section was completed. A flood protection wall was also demolished and replaced by a seven-foot high, gently sloping embankment. This shallow option is better at breaking down the forces of the waves, according to engineers.

Due to the project’s success, other revetments look set to be redeveloped across the East Frisian Islands.

The protection of the islands is not only important for tourism and the local people, but also for the underlying coastal regions. The islands are essentially offshore breakwater for the coast of mainland.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the “Küstenschutz für die Insel Baltrum (Protecting the Baltrum coastline)” project is EUR 6 600 000, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 3 300 000 from the Operational Programme “Lower Saxony” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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