This is the week of ‘Our Water’ (Ons Water). The water lobby in the Netherlands has designated this week to organize activities to increase our awareness of water as an important theme in our society, as a threat (sea level rise, cluster showers), but also as an essential resource (drinking water). On Saturday evening a great t.v. drama series runs called ‘Als de dijken breken’ (NPO 1, also available through Uitzending gemist). It portrays individual families and people who get caught in a (fictitious) flood of the Randstad, with water walls of 6 meters and up! Our Water has organized interviews with the actors of the series.
This week VU professor on Water, Petra van Dam, is invited to give her vision on floods in Heidelberg on a workshop about the history of floods and floods experiences in the Rhine valley. The presentation is a remake of recently published work. This week seems a good opportunity to catch up with that! Her claim is that before 1800 or so, Dutch culture was quite well adapted to coping with flooding. Most houses, including city centres like Amsterdam, were safely built on elevations; interior dikes slowed down the flood so people had time to flee; and many people had access to small boats, which was the normal transport means, so they could either flee or ship home food and drinking water.