30 Aug 2012

Dutch Deltaworks

The Dutch are famous for their water management (windmills,dikes, polders, etc.), but the Delta works [More] -- a series of interlinked projects protecting the southern Netherlands from storm surges and floods -- are their greatest achievement.

The Dutch started building them after the 1953 Zeeland floods killed nearly 1,900 people, inundated 1,365 km2 (9 percent of Dutch farmland) and killed tens of thousands of animals.

I visited the Maeslant barrier [more], which operates by swinging two arms together (like top and bottom teeth) to block water from flowing up the New Waterway towards Rotterdam. Each arm is 240m -- taller than the Eiffel tower.

I also saw Haringvliet dam [more], whose SciFi sluices open and close to allow water to flow by.

The Dutch are now pursuing a strategy that relies less on hard infrastructure (barriers and dikes) and more on natural structures, i.e., allowing "room for the river" to flow. They are spending 100 billion euros over 100 years to implement that plan.

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