The Markiezaats quay is an auxiliary dam with a length of four kilometres, which surrounds the Markiezaat of Bergen op Zoom. The dam runs between South-Beveland (east of the Kreekrak locks) and the Molenplaat near Bergen op Zoom. It was part of the compartment works and consequently had two functions. Firstly, it had to facilitate the closing of the Oyster dam and secondly, it had to reduce the rates of flow in the Scheldt-Rhine canal.
Construction started on 2nd January 1981 and finished on 20th March 1983. Driving over the dam from north to south would see the following: a low section of 1900 metres, a stone closing quay of 800 metres, a low section of 400 metres, a high section of 1100 metres long, west of the Molenplaat and finally a connecting dam with the south side of the Molenplaat. The Markiezaats quay could probably have been finished earlier, if the western part was not damaged by a heavy storm in the nights of 10th and 11th March 1982.
The Markiezaat lake
Behind the quay, the Markiezaat lake was created. Since 1530, this area had been called the ‘Drowned land of the Markiezaat of Bergen op Zoom’, as a result of the Saint-Elizabeth flood. For a long time, it was a tidal area where the water of the North Sea and the Scheldt met. Since the closure of the Kreekrak in 1868, the Markiezaat was part of the Oosterschelde. As a result of the construction of the Oyster dam and a dike east of the Scheldt-Rhine connection, a lake was created, which turned fresh after a couple of years. According to the World-wide Fund for Nature, this reservoir can develop into an enduring nature reserve. The Markiezaat is the largest wetland area of the Netherlands, after the Wadden sea and the IJssel lake.
It is of great importance that the fresh water in the lake is of good quality. Firstly, many watersports enthusiasts visit the area. Secondly, the freshwater buffer which developed behind the dam, plays a large role in the water supply to the environment. This supply can be used during dry periods. It serves as a collection basin for superfluous surface water from the western part of North Brabant during wet periods. However, it is not easy to keep the water fresh. Salt water can enter at two places: via the Kreekrak locks and the Krammer locks in the Philips dam. These locks have an ingenious system which can separate fresh and salt water. Nevertheless, one cannot prevent a small amount of salt water from flowing into the Volkerak and the Zoom lake. To drain away the salt or polluted water, a drainage canal and a drainage sluice have been built in the direction of the Westerschelde.