Water Works

How The Dutch Utilize Their Overabundance of Dihydrogen Monoxide

Today we visited the historic Kinderdijk project in South Holland, NL. Kinderdijk is a system of windmills which have (and continue to) pump water up and out of a floodplain in order to make the ground their arable and habitable. Begun in the first half of the 18th century, the windmills (molen in Dutch), 20 in total, were constructed in a pattern of rows flanking a submerged parcel of land along the banks of the Maas river. The molen are ordered such that there is a sort of staggering in height as the water progresses through their ranks. The first set, a set of three mills, takes the water from where is naturally lays and pushes it through a turbine, stepping it up a degree in height. From there, the water enters two taller channels where 17 mills (16 of which still remain) bring the water from these channels one step further, pushing it into the neighboring Maas river.

An impressive view of several Kinderdijk molen (Dutch for “mills”)
A look inside one of the Kinderdijk windmills. The mills housed not only the machinery for the turbines, but also the millers themselves, who lived and worked in small rooms like this one.
The Erasmus Bridge which crosses the Maas River in downtown Rotterdam.
A view of the “Net Kous” (Net Stocking), a metal, tube-like structure which surrounds the Randstad Rail line in front of a business complex.

After visiting Kinderdijk we took a waterbus to Dordrecht. Before speaking on the latter, I would like to spend a moment discussing the integration of multimodal transportation across the Netherlands, as I have seen it. To get to Dordrecht, we had to switch vessels, take land and sea-faring means of transit, and interacted with a variety of differing companies along the way. All of this was done seamlessly by way of the OV ChipKart and its component scanning devices, which allow riders to slip between bus and bike, train and tram, and even waterbus, without ever having to deal with tickets or cash. By simply holding the card (after having made sure it is charged with enough money to cover the cost of transit) up to a scanner, the rider is allowed to enter and ride, checking out when they exit. The simplicity and well-oiled nature of this system is evident every time we travel in NL, but especially today, when aquatic vehicles too were involved, did it really strike me how messy such a process would have been if we had been traveling in, say, the US.

Looking out the back of the waterbus we took from the mediary dock (featured in the previous picture) to Dordrecht. This was the largest and fastest boat we rode on while staying in The Hague.
The gang hanging out on the back of the Drechtsteden, a small, ferry-like vessel which took us from Kinderdijk to a mediary dock, on which we caught a waterbus to Dordrecht.
Waiting on the platform of the Metro station directly below the Grote Markt, in downtown The Hague.
Moving sidewalks in the Rotterdam Central station, heading towards the river Maas.

We finished up the day in Dordrecht. The city did not possess much in the way of Smart development or Renewable Energy adoption, but another theme of urbanization was present. It was obvious that the town was dying, slowly but surely. Infrastructure, very well maintained everywhere else we had visited, was failing. Graffiti was visible everywhere, and though there was not an overwhelming homeless population, on Monday afternoon there was hardly a soul out on the streets. It was not until we reached the train station that real signs of life were present. So it is back in America as well, that areas on the periphery of growing cities languish in their shadows. Dordrecht proves that this is a global phenomenon, and thus a problem that we must face together.

An empty side street in Dordrecht. Lonesome views like this were common there, betraying a town in decline.
The Dordrecht mascott, a sheep, featured here all-dolled-up in a shop window.

-Forest Schweitzer