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Holland

Dutch customs

"Kringenwet"



"Polder politics" in The Netherlands


A polder is a section of land below the local water-table, enclosed by dikes and equipped with a water-evacuation system....

The operation of a polder, the primary unit of low-lying Dutch land, is more complex than the evacuation of water.

The necessities of managing water-flow in property below the elevation of the natural table has always been further complicated by the shared ownership of land within a polder, the relationship between neighboring aquatic features (including other polders,) and the requirement for the management of large amounts of water flowing across land with little topographical variation.

Discussion and co-operation have always been essential qualities in Dutch culture. The agreements that are necessary in the function of these water systems require a decision-making process that is communal and conciliatory.

The Dutch have a tendency to form policy by consensus in place of leadership. This derives from requirements in a land where local, regional, and national decisions about water have always determined mutual well-being and survival.

Even beyond the obvious need for in-polder agreements on evacuation of water, there are various ways that strictly local action can influence neighbors. Construction over a significant area may affect the water table. An area of open water may be requisite in order to offset the effect. Infrastructure work adjacent to a polder may be influential as well, if it changes hydraulic pressure — or, by drying a dyke excessively, incurs cracking and canal damage. And, if the extra-polder reservoir system overfills, water may have to be dumped at a cost to valuable land.

These and related decisions are matters for discussion and pragmatic thinking, polder politics.


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