The Canal del Dique system is located towards the north of Colombia between the municipality of Calamar and Cartagena Bay and is part of the former overflow delta into the Caribbean Sea from the country’s main river, the Grande de la Magdalena. It covers a total area of approximately 4,400 km².
30 November 2010 saw one of the heaviest periods of rainfall Colombia had ever experienced as the result of the phenomenon known as “La Niña”. The result was an extreme rise in the levels of the Canal del Dique and the banks of a passable section of the Canal between the towns of Calamar and Villa Rosa in the Atlántico district burst which caused floods in the southernmost area of this region in northern Colombia.
In September 2010, Cormagdalena, the body responsible for the environmental management of the Canal del Dique, asked the national government to finance a project for the environmental restoration and hydrosedimentological management of the Canal del Dique System.
An fund was set up which allowed the final construction design and investigations required for the execution of the mitigation measure to combat the effects of “La Niña”. The projects were taken on by the Consorcio Dique which was made up of the Colombian engineering firm Gómez Cajiao and the Dutch Royal Haskoning DHV.
The objectives of the project for the environmental restoration and hydrosedimentological management in the Canal del Dique system are to actively regulate the incoming flows into the Canal del Dique system; to manage the movement of sediment, flooding, water levels and saline intrusion in the canal and to improve the boundary between the swamplands and the canal. Another objective is to identify scenarios for adaptation to climate change and to ensure sufficient water resources in the canal for drinking water, irrigation, livestock keeping, fishing and other services. Also, the ecosystems in Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo Natural National Park as well as the swampland, channel and Canal del Dique buffer zones shall be restored and the river navigation along the canal shall be optimised for the transportation of goods from within the country to the ports around Cartagena Bay.