ASCE releases book on Dutch flood protection, land reclamation

New from the American Society of Civil Engineers, "Designed for Dry Feet: Flood Protection and Land Reclamation in the Netherlands," written by Robert J. Hoeksema, Ph.D., explores Holland's unique challenges in water control and management...

May 7th, 2006

RESTON, VA, May 5, 2006 -- No other country in the world has played a greater role in protecting its inhabitants from natural disasters and devastation than the Netherlands. Located in the lowland delta of three major rivers, this small European country has fought for more than a thousand years to protect its inhabitants from floods and to reclaim flooded land, and today its government puts this work at the top of its national priorities.

New from the American Society of Civil Engineers, "Designed for Dry Feet: Flood Protection and Land Reclamation in the Netherlands," written by Robert J. Hoeksema, Ph.D., explores Holland's unique challenges in water control and management. Hoeksema begins by discussing the history of flood protection and land reclamation as well as the history of water management organizations. He then focuses on specific activities and projects, such as simple dwelling mounds, 17th-century windmill-powered lake draining systems, 19th-century steam-powered drainage activities, and 20th-century land reclamation and flood protection projects. Hoeksema also includes information about travel in the Netherlands, which he organizes into six excursions designed for those visiting this magnificent country.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this book will certainly prove to be a great asset to civil engineers from all over the world, as the technology from one country's battle with flood protection is borrowed to rebuild others.

The author is a professor of engineering at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, with a research focus on geostatistics and groundwater. Since 2000, he also has provided hydrologic and hydraulic modeling expertise for the engineering firm of Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr, and Huber. Hoeksema's interest in Dutch hydraulic engineering began about ten years ago when he taught a mini-course with a geographer colleague. Since then, they have taken students on regular tours of the Netherlands to learn about Dutch flood protection and land reclamation.

Here's what the experts are saying about Designed for Dry Feet:

• "This is a civil engineering saga that has been played out for centuries and continues still. Civil engineers created the infrastructure that allowed any number of countries to develop, but seldom have they created the very country itself and equally seldom has any nation's existence depended so completely on their craft. All civil engineering (not just hydrologists) should know this story, though few do, and the author is in a unique position to tell it."
-- Steven G. Vick, P.E., Consulting Geotechnical Engineering and Author of Degrees of Belief: Subjective Probability and Engineering Judgment

• "This book is not only a well-written historical account of the legendary land reclamation and flood protection in the Netherlands, but it also provides insights into the (re) building and fortification of dikes and levies, a national priority for a country that lies mostly below sea level. The lessons of the Dutch experience, particularly the storm barriers of the Delta Project, should serve both as models and as a wake-up call to a ravaged post-Katrina world."
-- Johan Snapper, Ph.D., Queen Beatrix Professor Emeritus of Dutch Literature & Culture, University of California at Berkeley

ASCE (www.asce.org) is the world's largest publisher of civil engineering information. The Society publishes the monthly magazine CIVIL ENGINEERING; the monthly newspaper ASCE NEWS; thirty technical and professional journals; the 140,000-entry Civil Engineering Database; and a variety of books including acquired titles published by ASCE Press, conference proceedings, committee reports, manuals of practice, standards, and monographs.

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