Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Dutch Solution

Since Hurricane Katrina pushed a monster storm surge into Louisiana and Mississippi, we've been hearing a lot about the superior flood protection in the Netherlands.

This week, our Senator Mary Landrieu took 50 elected representatives and decision makers over there to see how it's done. They're getting the grand tour of that nation's state-of-the-art flood protections, looking for the magic formula they can take back to the US.

But the so-called "Dutch Solution" is really quite simple.

The Dutch are neither smarter nor more innovative than us. They have the same science and engineering we have here in the US. They use the same kinds of computers and design software as we do. Their flood protection consists of levees and gates, and ours does, too. Wouldn't you know it, water weighs 62.43 pounds per cubic foot in both Holland and America!

There's only two things different.

First, they set a high standard for protection. While we Americans plan to defend our coast from a 100-year event, the Netherlands builds to repel a 10,000-year storm surge. If you think about it, 1 in 100 is simply not good odds.

Second, they fund their projects to the teeth. The Times-Picayune reports that the Netherlands spends about $1.2 billion annually on maintenance of their system. The US provides about $150 million on the Gulf Coast. Clearly, the Dutch put their money where their mouth is. Are you paying attention, Congress and Mr. President?

So let's cut the dog and pony show.

Over 1,300 Americans are dead because of half-hearted measures. Are we going to prevent another catastrophic event by pledging to build and maintain significant hurricane protection for the Gulf Coast? And are we going to pledge the money and resources to make it happen?

The answer isn't in the Netherlands, it's in Washington, D.C.


Matt said...

Hey Tim,
I saw your comment over at our site (Center for Faith in Politics.) I am really sorry to hear about all of your losses due to Katrina. Everyone in our organization will continue to pray for you and your family, as well as others. If you need help of any kind, let us know, we will do what we can.

Mr. Clio said...

Fanstastic post, perfectly stated. You've got an incredibly steady voice for somebody who's lost so much. Keep it up, somehow!

Marco said...

The bullshit's in Washington. You've got that right. Harry Shearer asked why it took so long for them to go to the Netherlands. They could have gone in October. Airfare's the same. The Dutch do put their money where their mouth is.

Seymour D. Fair said...

The last sentence in Part 1 of the three part Times-Picayune series in November on the Dutch flood control system says it all:

Achieving that long-term resoluteness might prove to be the single greatest challenge facing New Orleans. Flood control is a national religion in the Netherlands. In 49 U.S. states, it's Louisiana's problem.

Sophmom said...

*sigh* Great post. Bingo.

Astrid said...

Hi Tim,

I am Dutch and you are nearly making me blush, but yeah, I do think you are making a good point.

Most days of my life I have been living below sea-level and never in my life have I feel threatened by the large amount of water around me. I hope no one in Louisiana and Mississippi will ever feel threatened by the water again either.

Miles of smiles,