If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


04 FEB 2018

DELFT - January was tricky this round, weather did as if felt like. It meandered between storms, overcast stretches, and the rare, fantastically sunny day. Put a check mark on the month, its done. Now for the last month of Winter after which the year starts up in earnest.

We had a storm late in January during which all of the storm surge barriers were closed. Most know of the Delta Plan that closed off the Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) with a long dike and of Zeeland, an old, historic province but very low. The present dikes are always in rebuilding. The storm surge barriers are a new idea: better, far cheaper, and lower maintenance. Reading that all five were closed at the same time, for the first time, caught my interest; thus, to Wiki and Google's images.

So Far, So Good dopz-2018-02-04w

As reported on dutchnews.nl: All five big Dutch storm surge barriers were closed because of the strong winds and high water. It is the first time that all five barriers have been closed at the same time. (The Maeslantkering, pictured above, cuts Rotterdam port off from the sea and thus protects Delft too.)

To their credit, the designers reviewed the plan. What came of that was the design of the barriers now in place. It is original, clever, even elegant. And it seems to work well, so far. It is a Dutch idea, most parts were made in Holland and used skilled Dutch contractors. The Plan has cost a great deal of money but is deemed acceptable compared to the cost of doing nothing, or a little here and a little there. It is unrealistic after all to evacuate 4 million people, as the water is rising fast.

Based on 2008, a person's life was valued at 2.2 million euro. A risk amount was calculated that included people, things and animals. Some risks are acceptable, such as river versus salt water flooding. Also, rivers rise slower than storm tides.

Closing was triggered by a computer when the sea level rose by 2 1/2 meters. All port shipping stopped, gears kicked in. This one went smoothly: water was held off, Rotterdam stayed dry (and so did Delft).

I learned about the Delta Plan, the surge barrier at Rotterdam and that there is a miniature of it at Madurodam. The Dutch have been working on keeping the dry side dry for several centuries. A real challenge.

Not only does the North Sea lap at the low land, but one of the major rivers of Europe, the Rhine, flows out through Holland. Thus, the Delta Plan evolved to stay above sea water and river water blocked from its outlet.

The first version had in it the notion to break apart city centers, many 3 to 4 hundred years old, and rebuild them behind new, higher dikes. That did not go over well. Folks voiced fierce opposition to such a plan.

The Delta Law codifies acceptable risks. That somewhat matches my feelings about living in Delft, 10 feet below sea level, and Life's current as my boat moves along. I do keep an oar handy in case I have to row.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen