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California's Delta as a Flood Control and Sustainability Challenge

California's delta brings flood challenges and Holland's innovative strategies might help

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California ecomap of ecosystems and natural resouces habitat "Dealing with climatic changes," a Dutch water minister says, "is a flexible process that will never end any more. We will have to adapt again and again."

California is conferring with the Dutch to find solutions to the flooding potential of communities in the Delta in northern California. The solutions aren't easy when you have entire communities living and growing at today's sea level or below.

The Dutch Water Ministry in The Hague is in charge of Holland's aggressive strategy to keep climate change from swamping the country.

The Dutch federal government has concluded that it can no longer keep up with sea-level rise by building higher dikes. So it's considering innovative alternatives, such as building barrier islands in the North Sea. And it's trying to reduce the pressure on the dikes by allowing controlled flooding in certain areas.

But that can also mean forcing people to relocate.

"Of course, it's difficult to come in and say well, '30 years ago we wanted you to live here, to be a farmer, but now we want you to move out to keep the system safe,'" Boessenkool says.

Other flood-control projects are going on throughout the country, and they're just the start. Piet Dircke, an executive with the water engineering firm Arcadis, says the Dutch are considering their options for the next several centuries.


Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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