Thursday, May 13, 2010

Watertower and Locks


These last couple days have surely been the coldest we've seen on our stay here.  Yesterday we began the day with a visit to Philipsdam viewpoint that was about 7 stories high, and man was the wind blowing at that altitude.  We were for the most part prepared and bundled up, but as Floridians the cold was still a shock!  At the top of the tower we were able to view their system of locks. 

The dams and barriers that were constructed to protect the estuaries from flooding and storm surges can also serve the purpose of separating the salt water from the fresh water.  From atop the viewpoint we were able to see how a lock works.  The sea side of the lock is salt water but the land or riverside is fresh water, needed for farming.  The way the lock works is when a ship enters they face a solid gate and then a solid gate is lifted behind them.  The ship is then enclosed in the lock and as the salt water drains, fresh water is added on top of the salt water.  The lock works on the premise that the salt water is denser than the fresh and therefore will sink to the bottom where it will be removed and held in a sort of holding tank.  When the ship is completely surrounded by fresh water, the front gate is lowered and the ship is able to continue through the estuary.

This form of managing the purity and salinity of the water has been successful in doing just that, but it seems that the locks and dam will be removed from this area.  The original ecosystem survived and flourished under the conditions of salt water, but is now struggling.

Another interesting tidbit that we learned from atop the Philipsdam viewpoint was about shellfish vertical farming.  The Dutch use there long nets or chains to harvest muscles and other shellfish.  The chains are arranged vertically and parallel.  This configuration forms a mat that floats on the surface of the water as it collects shellfish.

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