Why The Netherlands Isn’t Under Water


This episode of Real Engineering was brought
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the description will get a 2 month free trial. On a cold and stormy morning in January 1953,
the Princess Victoria ferry was preparing to leave its dock in Stranraer on the south-west
coast of Scotland, despite gale warnings. An hour into its journey its captain radioed
for help as the storm forced the ferry on its side, making it impossible to board the
lifeboats. Of the 176 people aboard the princess victoria,
only 43 survived, but there was more tragedy to come, this storm was headed south towards
the Netherlands, pushing the seas with it, and with the Moon and Sun causing even higher
tides, this storm would severely test the flood defences of the Netherlands, which was
still getting back on its feet after the Second World War. The storm would ultimately claim the lives
of 1,835 people in the Netherlands, along with 200,000 cattle and flooding 2,000 square
kilometres of land, destroying 43,000 homes forcing and 72,000 people to flee. Today, we are going to learn why this happened
and how it would spark the construction of one of the seven modern wonders of the world:
The Dutch Delta Works. After World War 2, the meandering levees on
the coast of the Netherlands had fallen into disrepair, the Netherlands were just getting
back onto their feet after 5 years German occupation just 8 years prior to the storm. The poorly maintained flood defences were
a disaster waiting to happen. As the storm approached, it forced water inlands
with no-where to go, but up. This put intense pressure on the dykes and
levees of the low countries, and by the storm’s end 139 kilometres of levees would be heavily
damaged, with holes up to 3.5 kilometres being torn open. With nearly 26% of the Netherlands land area
being under sea level, seawater burst through these breeches with immense strength causing
damage that would take decades to repair and would spur the formation of the Delta Committee
just 20 days later to ensure this could never happen again and this is what they came up
with. The new Delta plan would shorten the Dutch
coastline by 700 kilometres, by closing the primary inlets in these 4 locations, this
would drastically reduce the length of levees and dykes that needed to be inspected and
maintained and thus decreasing the chances of weak points jeopardising the safety of
the Dutch people. However this was no easy task and would come
with an enormous cost. Before these works could be completed, additional
barriers needed to be erected upstream to improve fresh and saltwater management, and
prevent fresh water emptying from the Rhine, Meuse and Schelde river from redirecting around
these new dams. The northern most closure dam also needed
to be equipped with a hydraulic sluice capable of dealing with the output of the Rhine river,
as this Fresh water would flood the Netherlands from the other direction, if it was prevented
from emptying into the North Sea. On top of all this, a number of ports, such
as the port of Rotterdam and the port of Antwerp, had to stay accessible. So, aside from fixed dams, bridges and sluices,
two new locks that would allow an inland ship route between Antwerp and Rotterdam needed
to be built. Amazingly, on top of all this work, the dutch
still managed to consider the environmental impact of this work. The largest of the structures built for the
Delta Works project, the Oosterschelde Storm Surge Barrier, was originally planned to completely
close the mouth of this river, which would create a fresh water basin. However resistance to this plan arose, as
it would completely change the saltwater environment of the area. The Oosterschelde scenery is unique, with
a great variety of fish, water plants and animals. So in 1976 the Dutch government agreed to
a different plan: Building an open barrier that could be closed during heavy storms and
high tides. adding another 2.5 billion euros to the cost
to the project. This barrier is 9 kilometres long with 62
openings, each 40 metres wide, allowing the tidal movement to remain in tact. To build a structure this massive, that needs
to not only support it’s own weight, but the enormous force of a storm surge pushing
against it, would require extensive foundations. The first part of these foundations were created
by forming two islands, the biggest of which housing a lock to allowing ships to pass through
the barrier. This island even included a massive dry dock
to construct the 65 pylons needed to support the sluice gates, each using 7,000 cubic metres
of concrete and taking one-and-a-half years to build. Between each island a trench was dug. On both sides of the trench, mats were placed
to keep the seabed in place. While specially built ships were then used
to consolidate the sand at the bottom of the trench, using special vibrating needles, the
sand would be vibrated to pack the sand firmly together creating a surface that could carry
the weight of the massive pylons. The trench itself was then covered with specially
made mats filled with rocks to help prevent erosion of the underlying sand. The pylons were left hollow so they could
be picked up by another purpose-built, u-shaped ship, and moved into place. There, inside the trench, on top of the mats,
they would be lowered, filled with sand and closed with concrete. The wide foot of each pylon was packed in
stone, as it is vital the pylons never move, because if even one of the massive, 260 to
480 tonne doors, cannot move, the current in that location could become enormous and
potentially damage the structure. Finally these enormous hydraulic pistons were
attached to the sluice gates, allowing 3 kilometres of the 9 kilometre long Storm Surge Barrier
to open and close on demand. This project truly is one of the modern wonders
of the world. Allowing the dutch to rule the tide and ensure
the chances of another devastating flood are dramatically reduced, but with sea levels
continuing to rise and warmers seas causing even stronger storms, we need to remind ourselves
of the lessons learned here. The flooding of New Orleans in 2005 occurred
for many of the same reasons as the 1953 flooding of the Netherlands. Poorly maintained levees broke well below
their design tolerances, allowing 80% of the city to be flooded in just 5 hours. Had New Orleans taken lessons from history
and reduced the length of defences needed, as they have done now with the 1.1 billion
dollar Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, they may have saved of over 1000 people and prevented
the 108 billion dollars of damage the storm caused. If these trends continue cities around the
world are going to have to seriously assess the risk of flooding and make plans to prevent
any chance of a flood taking the lives of their citizens. So you may admired some of the footage in
this video, it’s not the first I have travelled to a location to get footage, but it is the
first time I have really felt prepared because I finally learned the necessary skills to
use my equipment like a professional from Skillshare. I learned all the technical terms and settings
to set up still shots of the storm surge barrier. I learned how to get cinematic shots with
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100 thoughts on “Why The Netherlands Isn’t Under Water

  1. Donald Trump: we wil built the First wa…..
    Netherlands: LMAO we just built one for the water

  2. nah bitch its cause we awesome

    also fun fact; the netherlands is extremely beautiful. you wont see any litter around, we care bout our enviroment. oh and you'll see trees everywhere. and i mean everywhere – amsterdam, rotterdam, dordrecht etc. there are trees eVERYWHERE.

    ly

  3. The final piece in the puzzle was actually completed relatively recently: the Maaslandkeering protecting Rotterdam harbor.

  4. My grandfather helped defending against the water. he died a few years ago. I have the same birth name as my grandfather and the job to bring forward the family name

  5. Me: is constipated
    Also me: watches video
    Also also me: is done with constipated poops

  6. Comments
    10% : people interested about the netherlands

    90%: KOM WIJ NEDERLANDERS GAAN DE COMMENTS KOLONISEREN

  7. Because everything is lied!
    Whole climate talk is a hoax to get all the peoples money!
    Pay them as taxes and the rich will runaway with it!

  8. The netherlands neden a good foundation so they started by creating two islands

  9. We have ruled the high sees and we have contain it. Now it is time to regain land!!

  10. Finnaly is the title not Holland but the Netherlands the real name ……Holland are 2 provincies North and South Holland

  11. amazing what they did with only 13 billion euros. imagine what they could do with real money.

  12. "They were just getting back on their feet after German occupation in WWII."

    Woah, woah, woah … learn your history, putz, The Netherlands were willing allies to the Third Reich, and only thanks to the Dutch Resistance did the nation retain (any) honor.

    Don't start spreading falsehoods and half truths – find your facts before posting, else get labelled as not being trustworthy.

  13. It’s called NETHERlands y’all know you can’t place water in the nether, and that’s a fact.

  14. In Sweden, we don’t need flood barriers, our country is so cold the water would freeze instantly on land

    For anyone who is thinking”wow is it really that cold in Sweden?” No it is not we had 40 degrees last summer (or whatever it is called it was really hot though)

  15. Why dont they play minecraft? They just could say that water poofs out of existince in their land

  16. So, this is why the Dutch couldn't muster enough forces to reinstill their reign over the East Indies

  17. Just live in Switzerland, in a vilage +600m above sea level like me, no risk of flood by sea.

  18. We all know it’s so the fire on the netherrack doesn’t burn out and ruin the ghasts’ home

  19. What bullshit,, the warmer weather caising more storms,, this is not science,, All data shoes hurricanes etc have been if anything decreasing in frequency and strength in the last 30 years,, Who gives these guys money to make this bullshit?

  20. America:we are going to build the greatest wall
    Netherlands:laughs in deltaworks
    Btw ik ben nederlands 😉

  21. I'm Dutch and when in school I learned that we live below sea level, I was around 11 years old, all I asked for Sinterklaas/Christmas/birthdays was a boat so i'd not be caught out by the next flooding. I was obsessed. I didn't get one so I saved all my money and bought inflatable armbands.

  22. Y’all don’t know our culture

    America: We’re gonna build a wall, and it will be the greatest there has ever been.

    Netherlands: HolD My frIkANDeL

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