Steve Edwards' website

1953 (another version of this page)


Water levels in The Netherlands are metered and controlled -- a fact essential to Dutch culture.*

What cannot be controlled, however, is the amount of water that comes into the country, either by river, by rain, or by sea.

Normally, the Dutch systems can manage the variation of incoming water. But during the unusually high storm surge of 1953, in which a low-pressure weather system raised the level of the North Sea, [The Netherlands had a problem with water.]

- combination of low atmospheric pressure over the North Sea, fierce winds, and a high tide.

By the construction of earthen and concrete-metal structures the coastline of The Netherlands shortened by 700 kilometers. The building and strengthening of dikes and other mechanisms against the rising of the North Sea were a great part of the Deltaplan structure. But the sea could not be shut out, because the great rivers of northern Europe are a shipping route of prime importance.

For the great port of Rotterdam, the solution became obvious, if difficult: huge gates would close if the need arose.

For lesser


water must be, and is, regulated by local, regional, and state agreements, and by legal decree.


* -- the management of water is primary in the Dutch conception of culture and samenleving, or "living together."