To safeguard the seaward access of the port, the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) and the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration established an innovative concept for the sustainable development of the tidal Elbe River in 2006. One of the concept’s objectives was to reduce tidal energy and the current of the incoming tide in order to reduce the upstream transport of sediment, so-called tidal pumping. This would, in turn, reduce the necessity for dredging in the Port of Hamburg and the waterway itself.
The concept was developed in the following years and this led to a new understanding of the need for an optimized sediment management strategy as well as measures along the river to moderate tidal action and serve nature conservation objectives. Within the framework of a pilot project, HPA increased the tidal area of the Elbe river by 30 ha, creating additional space for 1 million m³ of tidal volume and therefore reducing the tidal action.
Planning started in 2007 and between 2012 and 2022 the foreland of the Kreetsand area, which was not part of the intertidal zone, was re-modelled to create a shallow-water area. A large scale excavation of 2 million m³ of soil now allows free tidal oscillation and serves as a blueprint for future developments.
The integrated planning process combined different interests and needs from port uses, water management, nature conservation, and local recreation. The essential planning criteria, in addition to hydraulic efficiency and stability were the aspects of nature conservation and landscape planning, an integrative concept of soil management as well as the issues of safety and perceptibility for the public.
This project has been designed as a pilot for a new river engineering concept and as a benchmark for future measures with similar goals. This practical example of sustainable river engineering will be also used to increase the public understanding of how tidal systems and estuaries work. HPA established a new communication strategy which included residents, associations, and authorities from the very early planning stage. To explore the complex relationships and special features of the project an exhibition pavilion called the ´Dike Booth´ was set up beside the building site.