January 11, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

By Nate Wybenga

Todayís weather was absolutely crazy!  For most of the day, there were substantial sustainable winds of about 50 miles per hour, with gusts up to nearly 70 miles per hour.  On top of that, there was heavy rain / maybe hail.  It was certainly a good day to drive around and look at floodwater protection!

In the morning we drove to an inflatable dam at Ramspol.  The dam is intended to separate the Ketelmeer and the Zwarte Meer during storms and provide protection for the land along the Zwarte Meer.  This dam is the only one like it in the world.  It is separated into three inflatable sections, each 75 meters long, 13 meters wide and 8.35 meters high.  At rest, the inflatable tube sits at the bottom of the water.  When a storm comes that threatens flooding, the dam inflates with both water and air and protects the region.  Since itís completion 4 years ago, it has only been inflated 6 or 7 times.  Given the crazy weather of today, there was a possibility for inflation!  However, the winds were from the wrong direction (protecting the land from flooding), so no such luck.

Then we visited a water pumping station at the Noordoost Polder.  This water pumping station, along with 2 others, protects the polder from flooding.  The pump house uses 3 LARGE pumps, 2 natural gas and 1 diesel, to pump the water.  The innovative design of these pumps allows the plant to produce hot water and generate electricity that they then sell to the community.

Our third stop for the excursion was the New Land Heritage Center Museum.  We toured through and saw how the polder regions in the former Zuiderzee were created. 

Because we do not have class until Monday, the evening was very relaxing.  Some of us went into other towns to look around, while others stayed back and played games or relaxed.  Tomorrow most of us are headed out for a weekend of exploration and fun!

A small scale model of the inflatable dam


A side view of the actual dam (uninflated)


Professor Hoeksema puts his coat on in the storm (it was rather difficult to do)


A natural gas engine at the pumping station

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