Instead of constructing dykes along the Nieuwe Waterweg, it was decided in 1987 to build a flood barrier. Dykes would not be high enough and would cost too much given the scope of the area in need of protection. Construction began in 1991, and the Maeslandkering was ready for use in 1997. The barrier was built as part of the Europoort barrier, which in turn is part of the Delta Works. The Delta Works is an extensive bank defence system. This bank defence system is prevalent all over the world and was once proclaimed one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
First, the dry docks of the barrier were constructed and later, the gates were built. These are twenty-two metres high and two hundred and ten metres long. The barrier is operated by a computer system that automatically jumps in when there is high water during storms. The gates are then closed, and when the threat decreases, the water is first pumped out before the gates open again.
At the Keringhuis, education and water go hand in hand. Schools of different levels can go there for extensive guided tours. You can learn everything about the water policy of the Netherlands, bank defences, international cooperation and the flood disaster of 1953. Children who love geography will undoubtedly enjoy themselves. Especially for all children, there are special activities during the holidays; for example, they are allowed to carry out various experiments themselves.
Learning about water management at the Keringhuis
People who do not speak Dutch can request guided tours in English, German or French. Primary school children first see a film about Measlantkering. The tour then goes outside, where they can experience for themselves what they saw in the video. The next mission is to save a village from the flood. Here they use the knowledge they learned before. In the end, the guests are allowed to show what they have remembered during a pleasant round of questions.
For slightly older children, there are other fun things. For example, they can use a mobile phone during the tour. The tour is different for each age group. Adults can also experience the history and operation of the barrier during the tour.
A visit to the Maeslandkering does not have to end with the tour. There is a cosy restaurant where you can enjoy coffee or tea with a piece of cake and various sandwiches. There are also books and trinkets for sale, which can be a gentle reminder of the tour.