How the Dutch protect against flooding

Two thousand years ago, the land was an alluvial plain. Over the next thousand years, the Dutch built dikes around the highest land. In more recent times, the Dutch added the familiar Windmill pumps, and today pumps dot the landscape of The Netherlands to remove water accumulated from the deadliest of storms.

This particular set of gargantuan ‘sea doors or gates’ pictured here automatically closes upon unusual Alevel rises when the pressure of the sea pushes the the two ‘sea gates’ together closing off the mouth of a major river running into a highly populated area of the country. Called Maeslantkering, the project concluded in 1997. So far these ‘sea doors’ have closed only once since completion of construction. In response to millions who live under the constant threat of flooding, the government of The Netherlands has built an intricate system relying on dams,levees,and pumps, as well as a system  of smaller scale dikes, dams, and secondary lock structures to manage the threat.

Within the last few years, the Dutch government unveiled a $3 billion program called ‘Room for the River’, involving 14 different infrastructure projects over several decades, allowing the sea water in, not out. In 2013, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ‘floated’ a similar program for low-lying areas in New York City. It’s worth considering. If there is any country this country should look to for a paradigm in intelligently managing the water, it is undoubtedly The Netherlands. They’ve been doing it successfully for hundreds of years.

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