Middendijk Damme

Reparation middle dyke in Damme starts this summer

The middle dyke between the Leopold Canal and the Schipdonk Canal (called ‘Blinker’ and ‘Stinker’) on the territory of Knokke-Heist, Bruges and Damme will be repaired from August 2023. Following a dyke breach in 2018, other parts of the middle dyke were also found to be weakened. The upcoming repair works led by De Vlaamse Waterweg nv will have to ensure the safety of the dyke again in the future.

It is difficult to say exactly what caused the dyke breach five years ago. It is believed to be a combination of environment-related causes that have been detrimental to the stability (animal burrows, erosion, the dying off of trees, waterfall, etc.) Since the dyke breach, it was discovered that the middle dykes have been greatly weakened. Therefore, starting this summer, the necessary repair works are planned to strengthen the middle dyke.

The works will start in the Damme area and will extend for about 8 km in total (from the drainage canals in Heist to the Sifon bridge). The works are being carried out in zones and will take four years if everything goes according to plan. For safety reasons, the respective work zone of the central dyke will be closed off to pedestrians and cyclists. Herbosch-Kiere will be responsible for carrying out the works. The total cost of the project is estimated at €12.9 million (excluding VAT). An amount of 3.4 million euro (excl. VAT) is planned for the implementation of the first zone.

Working from the water

Throughout the whole process of the works, special attention is paid to the stability of the dyke. To preserve it, all work will be carried out from the water. Specifically, three floating pontoons will strengthen the central dike from the water. Sinking pieces will be installed on the bottom and the dyke. These zinc pieces consist of geotextiles with cots (willow twigs). These zinc pieces will then be covered with boulders and soil. The areas above water will be re-seeded.

The environment in the area surrounding the embankments is also given due consideration. Disturbance to the various species and vegetation in the area is avoided by both the period of implementation and the method of implementation.

As the work zone is in Birds Directive area, it is essential to minimise disturbance to the various bird types present during the breeding season. The works will therefore only be carried out from August to February. We carry out the works from bridge to bridge and on one side at a time to avoid any impact on the fragmentation of habitats and living areas or any barrier effect. This way, we avoid removing too much reed and disturbing the migration, foraging, etc. of the various animal species in and around the project area. The area is also very important for bats so the works should be carried out between sunrise and sunset and no artificial lighting should be used.

Preparatory works

Preparatory works for the repair started in early May 2023, for which a local diversion of the cycle path along the Leopold Canal (area between the A11 bridge and the N376 Knoksebaan) was planned.