My parents were both born and raised in poor countryside. During the war, there were not many rural youths who had proper educational conditions. But my parents were luckier than most of their peers. Many times, when reviewing old stories, my mother also said that if she could not go to university, she would have to stick to the hardscrabble countryside for the rest of her life.
Although she is the eldest child, her stature is weaker than my uncles and aunts, and her manual work is slow and ineffective, so she is “exiled” to school. At that time, there was a very familiar word of mouth: firstly medical, secondly medication, and third polytechnic university. But to pass the entrance exam to the prestigious medical school, you need to be smart, careful and very hard at reviewing the homework, usually only the urban people can do it. Rural children have little access to information, and no one is looking for guidance, thereby no way to know this. Hence, my mother naively registered for the medical exam. That’s not deaf, that’s what guns are. Luckily, the reviewers looked at the average learning capacity which was flexibly transferred to the irrigation school. And my father is used to be called to walk the enemy team. On receiving the summons, his grandfather went to the communal People’s Committee to make a fuss that the house with a dozen boys took the team to the end, and the youngest had to stay the home. Eventually, they had to compromise, and my father continued to go to school and later also went to the irrigation school. Since then, my parents have worked their whole lives with two words of irrigation.
As a rule, what do parents do when their children are exposed to that profession. So, it is no wonder that since I was a child I have seen many drawings of irrigation works. Every new school year, she asks for a roll of poon-paper, drawing draft drawings for children to wrap books. This paper is very tough and glossy so it is best to wrap books. Thanks to that, all the time when I was a student, I always had notebooks, book covers that did not “touch”. In a very natural way, I grew up with drawings and lots of interesting career stories. And like many intellectual families at the same time, I was directed to my parents’ profession. My mother always told me that the irrigation profession sounded very rural, not as majestic as foreign trade, economy, medicine, or something, but it raised our whole family.
Speaking about irrigation, it is impossible not to mention the Netherlands. I must say that my family has a very special bond with this country. My dad, my sister and I have all studied here, in Delft city, the most famous city about irrigation training. During my master’s graduation day, Maria – UNESCO-IHE’s public relations officer gave me a box of business cards to introduce to the school and asked to spread information to friends and colleagues in Vietnam. I said that I will keep the box as a souvenir, and the business cards will probably be less used because there are many people who have promoted the school before. In Vietnam, the IHE is no longer an unfamiliar name for people in the industry.
- Really? – Maria showed her interest.
- That’s right. Many teachers in my department, in my university, have studied masters and doctorates at IHE. A more interesting thing is that my father once graduated from this school, and today it’s my turn.
- REALLY? – Maria shouted in surprise.
- You kept looking in the list of Vietnamese students who carried the Vu family, graduating about 15 years ago. That is my father.
Being educated in the Netherlands is a great blessing in my life. Career tours have given me the opportunity to witness many very large and modern irrigation works that show excellent design and construction levels. So how do Dutch people treat super hydro?
At the end of August 2005, super typhoon Katrina devastated the United States, killing at least 1245 people and causing economic losses of $ 108 billion. It was one of the three most violent storms in American history. One of the most heavily affected areas is New Orleans, Louisiana. The city has an interesting feature that is below sea level. After the storm, American experts were confused about how to re-plan the city to minimize potential risks in the future. In the end, they spoke to colleagues in the Netherlands. For Americans to respect and rely on, the Dutch people have a very high level of expertise. It is not exaggerating to say that they are number one in the world in this area.
It is true that the Dutch have a long experience in treating water. History tells that 2000 years ago the Netherlands was not under, but only slightly above sea level. At that time, people often chose natural mounds to live, daily witnessing sea level rise and fall by tide. Over time, the population is growing, leading to the inevitable pressure on land expansion for people’s livelihoods, cultivation and livestock. So, the first levees began to be built connecting the land with the mound to form the enclosed polder and filled with wet mud. In parallel with the embankment, the issue of drainage and dredging soil improvement is particularly interested. The windmill is an important Dutch invention to pump seawater out of muddy areas. At the peak period, the whole country has 10,000 windmills operating at the same time!
But there is a very irony that the more water is pumped out, the more land subsides. You can imagine the land like a cake. Perfect castings always have a moderate porosity and humidity inside. But if it is too hot, the remaining amount of water is not enough to keep the cake with a perfectly porous texture, leading to the collapse of the cake. In fact, the Dutch “cake” has been withdrawn a lot of water, gradually falling and falling. Today the lowest area in the southwestern part of the country has an elevation of -6.7m, Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport has an elevation of -4m, while the city center of Rotterdam is under 6m of sea level. Assuming there are no river dykes, sea dikes and ancillary facilities, a half of the Netherlands is currently submerged.
Speaking about sea dykes in the Netherlands, we could not fail to mention the two most spectacular projects: Zuider Works and Delta Works. Zuider Works is deployed in Zuider Bay, which is a deep-sea area inland through a narrow gate. In 1916 a severe storm broke many dikes, 16 people died, 300km2 of flooding caused great economic losses. Immediately after the storm, the Dutch government planned to close the bay door with a dyke longer than 30km. Building a dyke in the middle of the sea, especially at the mouth of the bay is an extremely costly task because the flow of access to this area is very complicated. If not carefully calculated, how much will be put into the sea will be swept away much, like a hard work that should not be taken care of by the sand cart on the coast.
However, the ambitious long-term project Zuider Works has been successfully implemented by the Dutch for more than half a century (1920-1975) with many important items, the most prominent of which is the sea dyke Afsluitdijk launched in September 1933. Afsluitdijk is as straight as a ruler on the sea, so big that on the dike surface there are 4 lanes, significantly shortening the time to travel from North Holland province to Friesland province (located at the two ends of the dike). Since then the Zuider Sea has been wiped out and replaced with an Ijsselmeer freshwater lake of 1100km2 (equivalent to 33% of Hanoi’s total area). Large and small villages and towns began to grow along the lake, creating a new province of Flevoland. The capital of the province is the city of Lelystad, named after the chief engineer of the Zuider Works – Cornelis Lely project.
Southwest of the Netherlands, where the Delta Works project has been deployed, is the delta plain divided by many estuaries. According to the 1937 report of Rijkswaterstaat (a national waterworks management agency), the coastal protection system in this area is not sufficient to withstand major storms. The solution is to block all estuaries to minimize the possibility of seawater attack on land. The Delta Works project was conceived from that point on, but due to the impact of the second world war, it was slow to capitalize and delayed quite a lot. The first items were only completed in 1950.
A major event in 1953 dramatically changed the thinking and investment determination of the Dutch government into the Delta Works project. In the morning of February 1, 1953, the Netherlands received a super typhoon from the Atlantic Ocean, causing 1365km2 of southwestern region to be seriously flooded, 100,000 people were evacuated urgently in the night, 1836 died, causing damage. unprecedentedly large economy. Seventeen days after the disaster, the Delta Committee was urgently formed to assess the damage and come up with future disaster prevention solutions. The Delta Works project was carefully reviewed, supplemented and revised to suit the country conditions at that time. Finally, in mid-1956, the complete Delta Works project was officially approved by the government. Accordingly, there are two river mouths which are not completely closed: the Western Scheldt and New Waterway. The closure of the West Scheldt with a dyke will cause great environmental impacts as well as threats to the local fishing industry. The alternative is the Oosterscheldekering tide gate of 9km long, of which 3km of open and closed metal doors under weather conditions, each door is 6 – 12m high, weighing 260 – 480 tons. Oosterscheldekering alone estimates the Dutch government’s expenditure amounts to 2.5 billion euros. Compared to the most expensive, largest and safest, Oosterscheldekering works in the world. The probability of the project collapsing by sea storm is … 1/4000 (probably equivalent to a super storm).
New Waterway’s gate is directly connected with the busiest Rotterdam port in Europe. Therefore, if completely closed, it will greatly affect the trading of goods in particular and the Dutch economy in general. Thus, the two cheap tidal doors, each 22m high, 210m long, and 6800 tons, were built on both sides of New Waterway. When operating, two “fans” Measlantkering will close the protection port of Rotterdam and the city of 1.5 million people inside.
Measlantkering was completed in 1997, the last item in the Delta Works project with 16,500km of main and secondary dykes, drainage systems, tidal gates, locks and many other auxiliary works. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, Dutch sea dykes and ancillary structures are considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
Tai encroached on the sea, the water of the Dutch made me think of the story of Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh. How much North Sea is rising and ferocious, the Dutch sea dykes become much bigger and more solid. The incidents of dyke breaks seem to have never been detrimental, but on the contrary, the Dutch became stronger and wiser in treating water. Today, the whole country has been protected by the dead sea and dikes from sight and seems no longer a concern for Dutch people anymore. “The Lord created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.”