The Dutch quite have a reputation in their battle against the water.
No wonder, because half the country borders on the North Sea and it is the delta of large European rivers, Rhine and Meuse, in Dutch Rijn and Maas.
River Rhine rises in Switzerland and flows over a distance of 800 kilometers through Germany to The Netherlands. It transports vast amounts of meltwater from the Alps and rainwater to the North Sea.
While the Meuse must discharge lots of water from France and Belgium.
So it’s understandable the Dutch have a history with floods.
Before 1927 the Zuiderzee was open to the North Sea. This caused many floods. That’s why the Dutch decided to separate these two seas by constructing a 30 km long barrier dam to protect the area from floods. The Zuiderzee became a freshwater lake, renamed IJsselmeer. The population was now better protected from the water, but fishing villages had a problem.
The biggest disaster happened in 1953. A combination of storm surge and spring tide flooded almost the entire region of Zeeland. 1836 people died in a horror night.
To prevent such a disaster from happening again the Dutch constructed a masterpiece: The Delta Works. These water management constructions protect the whole area against the water.
The construction took more than 25 years and cost 5 billion euro’s.
The video shows you the map of The Netherlands around 1560. There was much more water than nowadays. The Dutch drained many lakes by pumping out the water with their famous windmills, creating polders.
Although many automated pumping stations took over their jobs, these very old mills are still in function.
Most of The Netherlands is below sea level.
To keep their feet dry the Dutch have to pump 24-7.
The video shows you what the country would look like without dikes.