Dutch Tips on Flood Control

Rotterdam flood gates
Rotterdam flood gates
TAMPA (2009-06-12) -

After Hurricane Katrina, officials started looking at ways to protect vulnerable coastlines. Louisiana officials talked with experts in the Netherlands and those Dutch delegates came to the Tampa Bay area for a similar discussion last week at the University of South Florida.

The Netherlands and Florida have something in common: heavily populated, low-lying coastlines. It makes them vulnerable to storms as well as rising sea levels due to a warming climate change.

But, after unprecedented flooding in 1953, the Dutch enacted stricter urban design laws according to Adri Verwey, an expert on flood modeling.
"In the Netherlands, we have somewhat more strict design criteria than you apply in the United States," Verwey said. "We for example protect our most densely populated areas at a flood frequency of 10,000 years.
He says, as a rule, the United States works with a "once in 100 years" flood scenario.

In addition to changing its design criteria, the Netherlands also closed sea gates and raised their levies around populated areas. Verwey is and international consultant and co-chair of the Association of State Floodplain Managers International Committee.

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