Finger in the Dike - 2 Billion a Year to Protect the Netherlands

Flooded Wieringerwerf Netherlands photo

Historical flood levels for village of Wieringerwerf

To protect itself from rising water levels, brought on by climate change, the Netherlands may need to spend almost 2 billion euros ($2.9 billion USD) annually for the extending and fortifying its system of dikes. Such are the findings of the Delta commission which was established after the 1953 floods that killed close to 2,000 people and flooded over 150,000 hectares of land.

The Netherlands translates as the ‘low countries’ reflecting that two thirds of the nation is at, or below, sea level. Which is kind of a hassle when sea levels are projected to rise 1.3 metres (4 ft +) this century. (Although some now believe 4 metres (13ft) is possible.) And especially so when, as Reuters reports, the area likely to be flooded by rising sea levels provides about 65% of the Dutch national income (or 1.8 trillion euros) and is home to 9 million people.The vast sums required to strengthen the 350 km of coastline the Delta commission suggest funds be drawn from natural gas income and long-term state bonds.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of another scare for the southern United States as it mops up flooding after Hurricane Gustav and waits nervously to see what the current hurricane season will bring with 40% more hurricanes predicted this year than previously.

And let's not forget the more than 3 million Indians and 70,000 Nepalis that are currently effected by flooding. 56 deaths and 220,000 homes damaged.

Like many natural resources, we so often take water for granted, but it can easily switch from friend to foe, so is deserving of much respect.

Delta commission, via ABC

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NB: Post updated with alternative spelling changes, although original was also technically correct.

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