Resilient on the waterfront

Not too much, not enough. The quantity of water in the docks must be just right to ensure a port functions effectively. As the climate changes, how is the Port of Antwerp-Bruges preparing for both high and low water levels?

Too much water

Climate change poses significant challenges for ports. Severe storms, heavy rainfall, and prolonged droughts affect the depth of waterways, crucial for port access, ship loading and unloading, and business operations. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is implementing measures to protect the port. Collaborating with the Department of Mobility and Public Works of Flanders and other coastal partners, Port of Antwerp-Bruges contributes to the 'Coastal Vision project'.

This project explores methods to protect the port in Zeebrugge from rising sea levels. "We anticipate a gradual rise of up to three meters," says Stefaan Ides, Port Area Development Expert at Port of Antwerp-Bruges. "We also consider higher waves during storms. The current proposal on the table involves raising the quay walls in the port area of Zeebrugge. However, how do you execute this in an operational port? Ideally, we would like to combine infrastructure works with islands for the port that mitigate the force of waves."

Not enough water

The greatest risk at the moment is not too much but not enough water, particularly in Antwerp. "We are in a region vulnerable to drought. According to the World Resources Institute, Belgium ranks 18th globally in countries facing the most water stress," says Annelies Oeyen, Water Program Manager at Port of Antwerp-Bruges.


"We have developed a dock level app, for instance. It indicates when we need to buffer extra water. During extreme drought and low Scheldt levels, water no longer flows automatically to the docks. In such cases, we pump water from the Scheldt."

Testopstelling van mobiele pompen in kader van dokpeilbeheer en waterkwantiteit aan Zandvliet-Berendrechtsluiscomplex. Project van Danny van Heue en Bart Reyniers.

"Additionally, we create retention basins, ditches, and pits that capture rainwater and slowly permeate it into the ground. We detect leaks at the locks and explore whether companies can recycle wastewater instead of using dock water." All these measures align with the Blue Deal: a project aiming to make more water available for humanity, now and in the future.


How does our port strive for clean water? Discover all the details in the video below!

Blue Deal, combating drought and water scarcity

The 'Blue Deal' project tackles drought and water scarcity. How does this process unfold?


1.Public authorities set a good example and enact appropriate regulations


2. Circular water usage is mandated


3. Agriculture and nature serve as criteria for new solutions


4. Encouraging individuals to soften water


5. Ensuring and increasing water supply


6. Investing together in innovative solutions to make the water system smarter, more robust, and more sustainable

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