Dutch Affairs / English

Dutch endless struggle against water

For those of you who have never heard of this, one third of the Dutch Soil is below sea level. As an uncle of mine who’s pilot once told me, he found it very special everytime he landed at Schiphol due to Dutch official’s greeting “Welcome to Schiphol Amsterdam at 3 m below sea level’ when his plane approached this Dutch international airport.

The blue marked areas are below sea level. Underneath, you see more detailed map of The Netherlands. The Dutch big cities (‘s-Gravenhage below Amsterdam is Den Haag or The Hague) are actually built ‘under sea level’. I live in Arnhem, nearby German border (far right, in the middle), safely high and dry according to the map below :-).

Let me begin by explaining the country’s name itself, The Netherlands as Neder=low Land=Land, the Low Lands, Les Pays-Bas. This explains the spelling of it in plural form with The before).
The worst flood The Dutchies had ever experienced took place in 1953 in the Zeeland Province (South of NL). The threat of such flood is still potent, that’s why Dutch Government installed this Delta Commission directly after 1953’s disaster. At 3 September 2008 a national Delta Commission presented its plan to protect NL from floods & dike breaks. Those who are really interested in this can look here for detailed information. This ambitious plan will cost Dutch government starting from the year 2010 to 2050 € 1,3 billion till € 1,9 billion annually.
The Dutchies had begun in early years in their battle against flood. I found a report that North Sea Canal was built in 1865. Water Engineering is one of Dutch successful export product. Major Dutch Engineering and Dredging companies have built/are building mega projects all over the world such as the Islands Palm Jumeira and the World in Dubai (Ballast Ham Dredging), new dike lines in New Orleans, USA (Boskalis, Royal Haskoning & Arcadis).
Let’s hope that Delta Commission will succeed in its plan, otherwise there’s a risk that my children’s children will have to experience the big flood.

4 thoughts on “Dutch endless struggle against water

  1. This below-sea-level fact of Holland is fascinating. Flevoland area was reclaimed just a year after my father was born, which makes him feel so connected to holland (both my parents went to Dutch school during the colonial period). I remember him bringing the whole family pretty often to Lelystad when we’re living in Wassenaar, and later he would go Lelystad whenever he visited me back then. Ah .. that’s piece of story on how some people fall in love with the low country

    Thanks for sharing the facts, Lorraine, I especially love to see the map!

  2. O really? When I was learning Dutch in my first year here, my teacher told us about this. My class mate, a Canadian, got really scared, big time. She thought we would drowned everytime the flood would came.

    In januari 1995 the big flood happened in Nijmegen region. The dikes broke because of the holes digged by the bunnies in the neighbourhood.

    Every year at the end of January and the beginning of February the water level of The Rhine in Arnhem wil go up to the river banks due to heavy rains in Germany or in the Alps (ceritanya seperti banjir kiriman di Ciliwung Jakarta).

  3. Pingback: Overstroom ik? | Chez Lorraine

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