Gouda poised to lower water table by 25 cm, locals cheesed off

The tourist's view of Gouda. Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Photo: Jeroen Mul via Wikimedia Commons

Gouda local council is contemplating lowering the water table by as much as 25 centimetres in part of the city to combat flooding caused by soil subsidence, but not everyone is happy about the plan.

Gouda is built on peat covered in a layer of rubble from earlier buildings, and the weight is causing the peat to be squeezed like a sponge. This makes Gouda sink at a faster rate than other cities, particularly in Noord and Zuid-Holland, which are grappling with similar problems.

This, combined with excessive rainfall, is causing many older homes in the centre of Gouda to flood as often four times a year.

‘In heavy rain the drains can’t handle the excess water and it’s not long before we are looking at ten centimetres of water,’ paint shop owner Gerda Boer told broadcaster Nos.

Boer is in favour of lowering the water table but others are not so sure. Some 60 of the affected 1,400 homes in Gouda are built on poles which, if allowed to dry out, may rot. In addition, lowering the water table in one area may shift the problem to other homes instead.

‘This is an experiment without precedent,’ Ton Schilperoort, who is leading opposition to the plans, told NOS. ‘We are worried about the speed with which the council wants to approve this plan. We are suggesting follow-up investigations but they’re not happening and hundreds of homes could be at risk.’

The council will take a decision in the coming months.

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