Going against the flow of history
February 24, 2013 11:39 PM Subscribe
posted by MartinWisse (31 comments total)
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As you know Bob, the Dutch have long known how to deal with the threat of flooding, living in a country that was largely conquered from the sea. Over the centuries the Netherlands has learned to put its trust in bigger and higher dykes, dams and various increasingly clever solutions to keep the sea where it's wanted and away from where it would be a nuisance. There's a new threat however, that can't be solved with higher dykes, a threat that needs to accomodated by doing something very un-Dutch: reflood parts of the Netherlands
The problem is simple: shifting climate patterns in Northern and Central Europe has meant warmer, wetter winters, more rain and hence more water in rivers like the Rhine which makes them increasingly likely to burst their banks. As the Netherlands is basically a massive floodplain with not just the Rhine, but also the Meuse and Schelde draining into it, it is particularly prone to such floodings.
Just building bigger dykes isn't sufficient, so the Dutch water management department, Rijkswaterstaat
, has started a programme to provide more room for rivers to flood safely
What kind of measures this would entail can be seen in this handy infographic
According to The New York Times
this programme is something America could do well to learn from
in the way the Dutch government has made difficult, sometimes unpopular decisions and stuck to them.