The Grensmaas project
Already in the 1980’s there were plans in the making to work on the Maas river in Zuid-Limburg. The plan ‘Ooievaar’ was an example of that. The river and nature areas had to be expanded.
Due to the floodings in 1993 and 1995, this plan had to be implemented and executed faster than anyone could have imagined. In October of 2009, Secretary of State Tineke Huizinga of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and governor Leon Frissen gave the signal to start the Grensmaas project.
River safety, nature landscape development and gravel mining. The execution of the project takes place at 11 sites between Maastricht and Roosteren. The project runs up until 2024. In this year the following requirements have to be met:
- Five times more protection against new floodings
- The development of 5000 new hectares of nature
- The mining of 54 miljoen tons of gravel
The river safety is secured through expanding the streams and lowering the banks. The layer of dirt that is loosened up is used to fill up the gravel wells. During this project a mere 80 million tons of earth is moved.
Consortium Grensmaas, Dutch Society of Nature Conservation
Landscape, flora & fauna
After completion, Bosscherveld will be a waterpark with channels, dry areas and walking and biking trails. This area will be part of the so called ‘green belt’ in and around the municipality of Maastricht. The residents of Borgharen will be far less at risk for floodings in the city. The Maas river will be expanded by expanding the channel over a length of three kilometres and lowering the banks.
A partial lowering of the banks is part of the plan and by expanding the channel an area is created with sand and gravel banks and small islands. The gravel mining is concentrated around an area of 60 hectares around the castle Hartelstein. This terrain will be excavated in several phases and will afterwards be filled up again with the purpose of letting nature take its course in this area.
Eleven working sites
The area was used as a test project starting from the year 2005 so that the people could see the effects of expanding the channel, lowering the banks and developing new nature areas. Meers has become one of the eleven work sites of the Consortium. Up until Urmond the Maas river will be expanded by widening the waterway. Gravel mining will be concontrated around a covered layer depot west of the village. This depot will be supplied with more soil that will be released along the river. The Koeweide is one of the locations that is important for lowering the risk for a new flooding. The channel of the Maas will be widened with several hundred metres. This soil will be added to the covered layer depot north of the Schipperskerk. Alongside the Juliana channel processing basins will be constructed. The dry sand and gravel will be excavated with hydraulic cranes.
In Grevenbicht there will not be a side channel but the embankment of the Maas river will be expanded. The nature reserve will be accessible which is a great benefit for visitors. The pollution near the Elba will also be addressed. In Geulle aan de Maas, following the original plan, there will be a service harbor and depot constructed for the storage and processing of sand and gravel from the covered layer depot north of the village.
In a later agreement in november of 2011 the decision was made to transport the industrial sand and gravel via a special worksite road to the existing depot and processing basins in Itteren. The passenger ferry will still be accessible via a bridge crossing the worksite road. In Geulle aan de Maas the river will be expanded by expanding the embankment. When the expansion and gravel mining is finished, the land use plan will be to create a new nature area.