Local Heart, Global Soul

November 30, 2014

The Water We Play With And Then Throw Away…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Traditionally Dutch — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today’s post is a yet another illustration of something else very typically Dutch: the aqueduct.

The national stereotype  of a country filled with canals is there for a reason, because the country is filled almost end to end with canals and waterways of all shapes and sizes.

Most people of course know about the famous Dutch sea defences, that’s lesser known is that in a country that is largely below sea level and thus with a water table that’s higher than the surrounding land, that it’s necessary to continually pump water off the land twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days of the year. And the extra day in Leap years.

There’s an entire Government department dedicated to water management. During storms, cloud bursts and long periods of rain, teams of experts monitor water levels around the country.

If it rains hard in the upper reaches of the Rhine River in Germany and flooding starts, all that water has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is going to to be further down-stream in The Netherlands. Every single Low tide, water that has been pumped off the land is emptied into the sea.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Netherlands is like a little boat with a slow leak that’s always requires bailing.  That’s why  twice a year we have a problem with the high Spring and Autumn tides. If these occur at the same time as large storms the sea level will be so high a low tide that the pumping out of the stored land water can not take place.

Many of the Dutch waterways are also used as commercial and recreational highways.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times in the last twenty years I’ve sat at a car at red light with the roadway in front of me tilted up to allow sailing vessels to go by. Sometimes though, when the road concerned is a motorway, a better solution than a tilting bridge has to be found, and this alternative is the aqueduct. This is basically where the canal goes over the road, ( or the road goes under the canal, take your pick) not a drinking water canal as per aqueducts of Roman times, but to carry  boat traffic. The one in my photographs is in Gouda (Yes, where the famous cheese comes from).

Make no mistake though, these canals are also very expensive feats of engineering and are not just there to benefit the whims of recreational boaties, the water in them is also very conveniently some of the water extracted from the land and is on it’s way to the sea to be pumped out when the next low tide comes around.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


February 21, 2011

Intersect a Large Canal with a Motorway and you Need …?

Filed under: Miscellaneous,THE NETHERLANDS,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m still stuck at home recovering from my foot misadventures, so soon I’ll take you on a little trip that we did last year with the kids.

But first, a little something that is a great solution for a big problem.

The Netherlands is a country largely beneath sea-level.

Inland, water is drained from the land via canals, and pumped  via a large network of canals eventually into the big rivers of the Rhine, Maas,  Waal, and Ijssel.

Nearer the coast, canals have gates that are closed at high tide and water is pumped every low tide into the sea.  This happened for centuries  with the aid of the windmills that The Netherlands is famous for: these days pumping stations are computerised and operate 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Water management in The Netherlands is a serious issue, since the natural water-table is meters above the land level in large parts of the country. Dikes keep the water in the canals, but often the surrounding land may or may not be at the same elevation that the dikes and canals are.

So, naturally this network of canals also throws up a few unique transportation problems. Roads are not elevated to the same level as the waterways, so how do you deal with the spots where roads and waterways meet?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On smaller canals, road bridges can be raised to allow boat traffic through, this involves stopping the road traffic for a short time whilst the bridge is raised.

The biggest rivers are spanned by very high bridges that allow shipping  to pass underneath, but these bridges are very expensive therefore these large bridges are spaced apart, and smaller car ferries take traffic from shore to shore to smaller towns and villages in-between.

Holding up car traffic on smaller roads is part and parcel of commuting around the Netherlands, it even happens inside cities… and it’s an accepted part of life. However, motorways are  different beasts…  it’s not feasible to hold up very large volumes of traffic for a bridge to be raised. so where they connect with the biggest canals special solutions have to be found.

We have plenty of road tunnels that go under the canals, but they too are very expensive and usually reserved for high traffic area by the widest  rivers so the next best option is the aqueduct.

The road traffic takes a short dip beneath the canal, the  metal and concrete sides of which are on view from the road. Often as you approach you may see tall masts  of yachts as they cross the road.  Murphy’s Law of course states that no yachts were crossing when I grabbed these photos.

This aqueduct is just outside the city of Gouda… ( Yes, the place famous for it’s cheese),  and whilst for the purposes of this post I am taking you on a journey away from the Hague, we happened  to be  driving up the backside of a caravan (no, not literally!) on the way out so the view was obstructed.

This is the better view that I snapped on the way home.

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