The water level in the Markermeer lake northeast of Amsterdam is “extremely high”, government officials said on Friday, and teams are on standby to act if the flood risk increases.
Near Edam, the level in the lake has reached 36 centimetres above normal and in Monnickendam, Volendam and Warder sandbags are being used to help shore up dykes and keep water out of the most low-lying residential areas.
Although there has been some localised flooding, the local water board said there is no reason to panic and the dykes are holding up well. “But we have brought in extra staff to monitor the dykes continuously,” he told news website Nu.nl.
Current water levels are unpredictable, the spokesman said. “We have things under control but the situation is worrying and extremely rare. This sort of thing happens once in 100 years.”
The water level in the IJsselmeer, which is separated from the Markermeer by a dyke, is also very high and that means excess water cannot be pumped into it, infrastructure ministry officials said on Thursday.
Elsewhere, the high water levels following weeks of heavy rain are causing some local problems. The N345 has been closed at Voorst because the road is flooded and there is nowhere to pump the water. The N36 between Almelo and Ommen has also been closed because of flooding near Westerhaar.
In Maastricht, army experts are now looking at what can be done about a support dam that washed away earlier in the week, sending a house boat crashing into a bridge.
The level in the Meuse river did go down overnight, officials said.
Water levels in the Netherlands, where some 26% of the land is below sea level, are measured according to NAP or Normaal Amsterdams Peil. This refers to the normal water level in Amsterdam, which is slightly lower than sea level.
NAP is used as a base to measure how high or low water levels are in Dutch rivers. So when the river Rhine is high, it is described as a certain number of metres ‘above NAP’. During the last serious floods, in the 1990s, the water level at Lobith reached 16 metres above NAP.
Although rising sea levels are widely perceived as the biggest flood risk to the Netherlands, the huge volume of water moving through rivers from central Europe towards the sea is currently more of a danger.
In 1995, extreme high water levels in the rivers Rhine, Meuse and Waal forced some 250,000 people in Gelderland, Overijssel and Limburg out of their homes in what was the largest post-war evacuation of people in the Netherlands.
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