It's sink or swim!
Sometimes I am wrong. At the moment I think I was seriously mistaken. For many years I had been under the assumption that as Dutch people we were a seafaring nation that has dominated the world's seas for centuries. I assumed that the Dutch more or less invented building dikes and reclaiming land. I have also always thought that foreigners liked and regularly knocked on the door of the Dutch for all their persistent water board problems. From building bridges to salvaging ships, just call the Dutch! Yes, I always thought we knew how to handle water.
We are also reasonably ahead of the curve in paying taxes. Think of road tax, income tax, real estate tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, gambling tax, VAT tax, environmental tax, municipal tax and so on. Oh yes, I forgot the WATER BOARD TAX. Now I am not sure whether this tax is included in the municipal taxes because I can no longer see the tax forest because of all those burdensome trees. What I do know is that every now and then we have water board elections. In addition, we choose a handful of policy makers who will bear responsibility for the local government body “the water boards”. Before I continue with my diatribe, we will first briefly look at what the task of such a water board actually is.
A water board is actually about regional water management. You should think of checking bathing water, measuring and checking water levels by means of pumping stations and the like, purifying waste water and many more things. For a complete overview, I will place a link with additional information at the bottom of this article if you want to know more about this rather important organization. I have consciously saved perhaps the most important task of the water boards for last, namely the management of dikes!
Our country is surrounded by water, we live on it but also on it. With so many rivers, lakes, canals and other waterways nearby, it is advisable to adapt your living environment to all this water. Thus, of course, we have the horribly black days of January 31 and February 1, 1953, engraved in our memory. The flood disaster that then took place cost more than 1836 people their lives and many more people lost their home and hearth. Thousands of animals also drowned that night. The damage was enormous and was caused by the unfortunate combination of storm surge conditions combined with spring tides. Due to these circumstances, the southern North Sea water was able to develop to extreme heights, resulting in dike breaches. The Beatrix Flood was the largest 20th-century natural disaster in the Netherlands. In response, the Delta Works were built. A magnificent defense system consisting of five storm surge barriers, two locks and six dams. Another fine piece of technical water board ingenuity that astonished the world. And fully constructed to protect the provinces of Zeeland, southern South Holland and North Brabant in particular against high water from the North Sea. And if the water level of the many rivers in our country becomes too high, the delta works are also there to lead the water from the rivers back to the sea. That's how we do it….
What we also do is impoldering. We will dry up a complete inland sea to set up Almere. Now I am of course talking about the province of Flevoland and the phenomenal Afsluitdijk to separate the Wadden Sea from the IJsselmeer and thus connect beautiful Friesland with North Holland. But not only that! The Afsluitdijk is part of the Zuiderzee Works and is essential to protect our country against flooding. A typical example of multitasking. And regardless of what we actually think about giving up the Zuiderzee. We now have the province of Flevoland, designed by the Dutch engineer and hydraulic engineer Cornelis Lely. All thanks to his extremely ambitious reclamation plans. And with the creation of a lot of extra land as a result. Not only for the construction of the capital Lelystad, named after him, but for many other villages and towns and agriculture of course! In conclusion, we know what we are doing.
Pumping stations, locks, polders and building dikes. We have turned it into art. Now for today's issue. Considering all this, does my astonishment grow at the momentary failure of all our created art? How is this possible? What a monstrous shambles of our national heritage this is, wasted by a bunch of undersized landlubbers who seem to know their shit. For example, there have been (imminent) dike breaches at Reeuwijk (South Holland, Hattem (Gelderland) earlier this month at Echt Susteren and Roosteren (Limburg) and now another breach at Meerssum (Limburg). reported in the news that holes in dikes had to be filled in various places in the country to prevent any (further) breaches.Now I wonder in all sincerity what on earth is going on with our Netherlands? must not be able to cope with these kinds of weather conditions? Has maintenance been carried out or has a large part of tax money fallen into the water? If you know, I would like to hear about it. At the moment I can only say that I am very have a lot of questions…….