Better drainage of river water reduces the chance of flooding. Through the creation a new flood channel near the villages Veessen and Wapenveld the river water is able to flow quicker to sea. The channel is constructed in such a way that the natural and agricultural functions are maintained, or even reinforced.

Extra elbow room for the IJssel

In order to make more room for the river IJssel, the area between the villages of Veessen and Wapenveld has undergone several large adjustments. Around 15 kilometres to the south of the city of Zwolle, a flood channel creates extra room to maneuver for the river. The channel varies between 500 meters and 1,500 meters in width, and act as a ‘bypass’ in extreme high water conditions, so that the river will not overflow its banks.

When the channel is full, it will provide a temporary reduction in the level of the IJssel of 71 centimetres. The effect will be observed all the way upstream to Deventer and Zutphen. The measure Veessen and Wapenveld is responsible for the greatest reduction in water levels of any project within Room for the River. The project has chosen to conduct the necessary work in such a way that the existing functions of the area could be maintained, i.e. the agricultural character of the landscape between the dykes is preserved. The project also provides better bicycle path connections and new nature. The construction of two new bridges keeps the area to the east of the channel easily accessible, even when the channel is full of water.

A channel without digging

Instead of digging a new channel, two new dykes are built of each eight kilometres long. The flood channel created can drain up to 45 percent of the water in the IJssel at extreme high water. Through this solution, the existing functions in the area could be maintained while significantly improving flood protection under extreme high water conditions. The Veessen-Wapenveld flood channel is expected to drain flood waters only once in a human lifetime. For the remaining period, the channel will be used for agricultural activities.

Dykes, pumping stations and a moveable inlet

The plan for the flood channel consists of much more than just the construction of two dykes. Two pumping stations at the new western and eastern dykes ensure that the water levels remain in order. To the south, part of the Kerk dyke is lowered and a bridge is built with a moveable inlet underneath. It's locks can be opened and closed seperately to adjust the amount of water flowing through the channel at times of high peak water. Only in conditions of extreme high water will the inlets be opened to drain excess water from the IJssel. During normal high water conditions, the channel is protected by new quays. Furthermore, the locks in the inlet will be operated manually, so that the inlet will still be easy to operate in 80 years, regardless of technological developments.

Added value for nature and recreation

Because trees and shrubs obstruct the water flow through the channel, natural vegetation had to be removed. On the other hand, the natural value of the landscape has been given due attention. To the west of the flood channel, a landscape zone with space for nature and recreation is laid out. A new nature area is developed between the West dyke and the River Grote Wetering. The road connections in the channel area have been remained in place. Recreational users have also been provided for: the bicycle path network is expanded, a canoe route is laid out and a hiking path has been planned for the new flood plain. A bird nesting area is created in the northern section of the channel. Cyclists and other passers-by have an excellent view of the meadow birds from the bicycle path on the West dyke. To the south of the inlet, a recreational area with a view on the IJssel and its flood plain is created.


  • construction of two 8-km long dykes
  • construction of two bridges
  • moveable inlet locks with manually operated doors
  • two pumping stations


  • temporary water level reduction of 71 cm on the IJssel


  • Vallei & Veluwe Water Authority (project coordinator)
  • City of Heerde
  • Rijkswaterstaat