Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Wonderlijk Water, Waardevol Werk"


"God created the world, the Dutch created the Netherlands" 

It has been a few days since my last post and a lot has happened in this short period of time. Sunday was a "take it easy day" which I spent doing some homework and going on a long walk with Ana and Ivy in search of a tell tale grocery store that is open on Sundays. I am still amazed at how beautiful Delft is and how it operates. To the right is a picture of Ivy standing just inside of the bike parking outside of the Centraal Delft train station. It is amazing how many bikes there are, and even more amazing that anyone is able to locate their bike when they arrive. I think I will have to find a flag for my bike, or else I may lose it after the first day. 

I also have finally gotten the chance to upload the pictures that I took out of the window from the plane as it was landing in Amsterdam's Schipole airport last Thursday morning (left). Although at the time I did not quite understand the degree of importance that the canals in the Netherlands have, it is obvious from this view that they are all over the landscape. Looking at this picture now, it is very easy to see the vulnerability that the Dutch have to the water that is all around, and at a higher level than they, their houses and their agricultural land are. 

Yesterday (Maandag) we were able to tag along with a tour to Rijkswaterstaat in Den Haag where most of the water management is controlled. Here, we were given a great deal of information regarding the policies in place regulating the implantation of their water management system as well as how the water is managed in each region of the Netherlands. We discovered that there are currently 27 local water boards focus on testing and managing the water in their regions. In addition, we learned about the history of the water management system and the impact that the flood of 1953 had on the way that the country secured its land from the sea and protected its people. It was also interesting to find out that the people living in the Netherlands do not have flood insurance because the insurance companies couldn't afford the pay off if anything did happen, as it would be such large scale devastation. I also was, again, impressed by how the Dutch plan ahead and try to plan for the climate change and what it could possibly mean for the water levels of the sea and ultimately the safety of their home. At these presentations we also learned that only 2% of the water in the Netherlands is "natural" and that 56% is artificial (in man made canals etc) and that the other 42% has been heavily modified. I found this interesting because it demonstrates how much they have had to change their environment to make it so that the Netherlands can be/continued to be inhabited. Following we walked around Den Haag for a while and looked at the amazing architecture and the beautiful city.

Today (dinsdag) was a very exciting day in my opinion. We were taken to Kinderdijk where we were able to see the historic windmills that were used to move water from the inhabited/agricultural area to the sea. Each windmill can move the water up approximately 1 m and, used in series, move water up to a level just above sea level so that the water will flow into the rivers. The windmills were beautiful and it was very cool to see the way that people used to use their resources to control the water in the Netherlands. It was clear from visiting inside of one of the windmills (for only E3.50!) that people used to live in them and be ready to change their directions/speeds at any time.

It was a very fun day today and it was really great to be able to go inside of the windmill and see how it operates. I am excited about tomorrow and all of the new things that we will learn. There is so much information that it is hard to sum it all up here in the blog. This has been such a good experience and it is only beginning. I have found the Dutch culture to be very inviting and friendly and feel as though I have been here much longer than a week.

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