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Dutch Try to Step Up Flood Protection

This article from <em>Wired</em> looks at new plans to prevent massive flooding in the low-lying Netherlands.
January 3, 2009, 9am PST | Nate Berg
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"More than half of the Netherlands sits below sea level, and if a megastorm were to break through these not-so-formidable dunes, the water could inundate Rotterdam and surrounding cities within 24 hours, flooding thousands of square miles, paralyzing the nation's economy, and devastating an area inhabited by more than 2 million people."

"Also on the drawing board are massive new storm-surge barriers and reinforcements around cities like Rotterdam and Dordrecht, built on the marshy delta where the Rhine and Meuse rivers meet the sea. "If you see a certain future, you must react," Stive says. And as he sees it, that future looks wet."

"Yet the chance of a breach at Ter Heijde is actually quite low, about 1 in 10,000 in any given year. (In the lingo of storm protection, that's known as a 10,000-year flood.) The coastline and river deltas of the Netherlands are arguably the best-protected lowlands in the world, and the Dutch are a little miffed at Al Gore for suggesting in An Inconvenient Truth that their homeland is as vulnerable to rising seas as far less protected places like Bangladesh and Florida."

"To Stive and other sea-rise hawks, however, 1 in 10,000 has become too risky. They want to crank up defenses in some critical areas to the level of 1 in 100,000."

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Published on Monday, December 22, 2008 in Wired
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