Holland’s beaches and dunes have always been an integral part of the Dutch water-management and defences infrastructure. Sand banks and the beach break the ceaseless assault on the coast during regular weather, and the dunes prevent deluge in the case of one of the anticipated three or four mighty storms each year.
How the wind and the sea’s currents bring sand to the shore and how the coastline naturally moves east and west is explained in an article about the dunes elsewhere on this site, but in order to guarantee the integrity of the coastline and keep it in the same position, the Dutch bring approximately 12 million cubic metres of sand to the shore annually. It is a process called beach nourishment, or beach replenishment.
The job is done by a fleet of dredging vessels that suck up sand from the seabed between 10 and 20 km off the coast and then deposit it on the beach to raise it, or just off the coast to form a sandbank.
During the summer of 2019, replenishment is being carried out at Bergen and Egmond. Some 2.5 million m2 of sand is being deposited about 2 km off the coast to form a new sandbank stretching from Egmond to Bergen. Nature will then take its course and bring this ‘new’ sand to the beach. The work is expected to be completed by the end of August and should be enough nourishment locally for the next five years.