Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Delta Project - The Storm Surge Barrier and Windmills

Day 6 - After floods of 1953 flooded 500,000 acres of land and claimed 1,835 lives, Dutch parliament launched the Delta Project which involved the closure of all tidal inlets on the North Sea except the New Waterway and the Western Scheldt. It was inaugurated in 1985; the last phase of two immense sea locks protecting the New Waterway and the shipping route to Rotterdam was completed in 1997. To date, the locks have been lowered an average of once a year. The environmentalists complain each time it has to be closed. I'm not sure what they would have the government do instead!

The red lines in the second picture show the 1953 flood stage (top, thin line) and the lower one (thicker line) shows where the water is when they order the locks closed today. The third photo is a mock up of how the gates work. There is a series of these locks as shown in the last photo that stretches a long way. I forgot to count how many there are. It is an engineering marvel and cost billions to construct. You'll also notice wind turbines in this photo. They are in use a lot throughout the part of Europe we visited.

In the afternoon we walked from the ship to Kinderdijk where we saw 19 original windmills built in 1740 that are still in operation today, more for show than for any actual benefit to the water table. Instead a large auger is used to drain the water from this region. The homes within the windmill are rented inexpensively by people who agree to run the windmills for a certain amount of time each month.

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