Nearly 5,000 miles apart on this changing planet, New Orleans and the Netherlands have one big challenge in common: water.
New Orleans Public Radio and The Times Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate sent reporters Tegan Wendland and Tristan Baurick to the Netherlands to explore new best practices around water management and climate change adaptation.
The resulting series — part of the Pulitzer Center’s nationwide Connected Coastlines initiative — digs into how we can adapt to river flooding and more intense storms, how we undo past mistakes, what it means to “build with nature” and much more.
This is Water Ways: Dutch Lessons for a Changing Coast.
Climate change is bringing heavier rain and bigger storms — new challenges for old cities.
Last summer the Mississippi River and many of its tributaries flooded for months, causing more than $20 billion dollars in damage. Climate change is bringing more heavy and frequent rainstorms, a threat many flood protection systems were not built for. Rivers creep over levees or burst them. There’s nowhere for the water to go.
The Netherlands is a coastal nation and faces similar threats to Louisiana, like rising seas, stronger storms and a sinking coast. Over the past thousand years, the Dutch have built giant floodwalls and levees to protect them from the North Sea, just like officials continue to do in Louisiana.
After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana officials sought advice from the Dutch.
It makes sense. In the Netherlands, people have been managing water for a thousand years. Coastal communities across the world are now facing new climate threats — rising seas, more intense storms and heavier rain.