View Full Version : Dutch Learn Sanitation!

Lurker the Second
14-08-2007, 17:27:45
Congrats! (From today's NYT):

AMSTERDAM, Aug. 8 — On a recent Saturday during the confusion of this watery city’s annual Gay Pride Parade along the majestic Princes Canal, a beach umbrella was knocked into the water from the foredeck of Jackie Wijnakker’s houseboat, so she dove into the water to fetch it, unsuccessfully. It was only the second time in 17 years that she had jumped into the canal, and she cannot recall what she was trying to retrieve the first time. At any rate, she said with a laugh, “I’m too old to be diving into canals.”

She told the tale as a testament to how clean the water is, despite its murky, khaki color. “The canals are flushed regularly,” said Ron Van Heukelom, a neighbor who lives on dry land and has never ventured into the canal.

The flushing is necessary because, while most of Amsterdam’s 2,800 houseboats have running water, electricity and gas heat, few are connected to sewerage systems and continue to spill their waste into the canals.

The houseboats’ lack of toilet training is their dirty little secret, one that sits uncomfortably with a new generation of wealthier, more demanding owners who are leading a gentrification of the houseboat scene. In the process, they are displacing the less affluent boat people, many of whom are relics of the 1960s and 1970s era of flower power now struggling to pay the upkeep on their boats.

“The water is cleaner than it looks,” said Monique J. M. Jacobs, an official of the city agency responsible for water and the boats. The canals, she explained, are flushed by opening and closing locks about twice a week, and in summer more often. “Small fish are coming back, and also birds that feed off the fish,” she said. “In the old days it was awful. It stank in summer.”

The city wants to go further. It plans to install sewage pipes along the canals for the boats to hook into. This poses a threat to boat people like Ms. Wijnakker, who will have to pay about $28,000 to link up to the new system. The threat is not imminent; boat owners will have until 2017 to hook up.

Houseboats were traditionally the refuge of people without the means to live on dry land. After World War II, working-class families took to the water when housing on land was unavailable, and old canal barges were cheap, as the Dutch renewed their fleet.

“It’s difficult to find a good house on land,” said Pom Dupré, who has lived for 20 years on a 65-foot boat, the Nova Cura, along the canal. “And of course, this is a fine neighborhood,” she added, glancing at the stately 17th-century homes along the canal, many of them law offices or professional services.

There are drawbacks, she admits. Every four years the boat has to be hauled to a dry dock to have its hull checked for canal-worthiness. The family must find a place to stay, or live on the boat in the wharf; water pipes, which are exposed to the air between boat and canal wall, often freeze in the winter.

To make ends meet, or simply to enjoy onboard company, some boat owners have transformed their boats into bed-and-breakfasts. Ms. Wijnakker began taking in guests three years ago and now does a busy trade in summer.

Two years ago, Luc Couvée, 51, a graphic artist, and his wife, Laura Tollenaar, bought a canal freighter on the canal, then added two showers and two bedrooms to take in paying guests. “I’m a very boat-minded person,” Mr. Couvée said. “And it’s cheaper than an apartment, though not by much.”

The couple paid about $420,000 for the boat, which they renamed Vreiheid, or freedom. An apartment in the neighborhood would have cost about $700,000. They have solved the sewage problem, installing the necessary plumbing and a cesspool that can be emptied regularly. When the city’s plumbing is in place, they will be ready.

The popularity of houseboats reflects a general awakening in Amsterdam to the beauty of water. “Up to the 1970s and ’80s, Amsterdam’s water was forgotten,” said Maarten Kloos, an architect who runs Arcam, an independent foundation that promotes architecture. “Now, not only houseboats, floating has gained currency.”

Indeed, the architecture of some new apartment buildings near the center of Amsterdam suggests huge houseboats. “Talking about water is now the topic,” Mr. Kloos said. “People used to say, ‘With the beauty of our 17th-century canals, why can’t we get rid of those boats?’ ” he said. “Now, like all of Amsterdam, the boats are more and more bourgeois.”

Mr. Kloos might have been thinking of a squat, sleek houseboat on the River Amstel that suggests Mies van der Rohe more than Peter Stuyvesant. Five years ago, Steven Westerop, a personnel executive, left his home in Leiden, a short train ride from Amsterdam, to buy a dilapidated boat on the Amstel from an elderly German who came to Holland during the flower power days. With an architect’s help, Mr. Westerop, 46, designed and built a split-level home on a hull that was essentially a reinforced concrete shoebox.

“There are many kinds of boats I didn’t like,” he said. “I wanted people to say, ‘O.K.!’ Maybe even a little over the top.”

“It’s now a yuppie market,” he said. “You need a good job, otherwise you can’t afford it.” The old boat people, like his German, are selling, he said, and all of the houseboats on both sides of his have changed owners in the past five years.

“Sometimes, though, I still feel like a Gypsy,” he went on. “But I have a big mortgage.”

14-08-2007, 18:14:30

14-08-2007, 19:21:38
Originally posted by mr_B

Dutch in the 80s -> crap in the canals, canals stink, poor people live in boats.

Dutch in the 00s -> don't crap in the canals, canals are clean, rich people buy boathouses.

Scabrous Birdseed
14-08-2007, 19:49:21
Dutch wise men discover the secret of SANITATION!

What discovery should our wise men be pusuing, sire? Pick one:

o 1. Bridges that stay above water
o 2. Dams that don't spring leaks
o 3. A language where words and writing have some sort of correlation
• 4. doooo di doooo

Lurker the Second
14-08-2007, 19:52:56
Thank you Scabby. It's been too long since I played Civ and I couldn't remember how it went. You are clearly correct that they chose (4).

Excellent summary vetlegion.

14-08-2007, 21:48:57
:lol: @ scabby

Housing prices in the centre of amsterdam are ridiculous.

15-08-2007, 20:16:15
:lol: looks weird w/ current-day spelling rules

16-08-2007, 16:47:32
The Japanese are still fine-tuning it. (http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070804p2a00m0na005000c.html)

Plumbing blunder leaves Hiroshima U. students drinking toilet water since 1993

HIGASHIHIROSHIMA, Hiroshima -- A plumbing blunder at Hiroshima University's Higashi-Hiroshima Campus resulted in water for toilet flushing being sent to drinking taps for more than a decade, it has emerged.

University officials announced the mix-up on Friday. The problem was uncovered after about 80 students at the campus who drank the water in July fell ill, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea.

Officials said the pipes for high quality drinking water and low grade toilet flushing water at the gymnasium on the campus had been attached the wrong way around. They said it was believed the pipes had been fitted incorrectly since the gymnasium was completed in April 1993. (Mainichi)

17-08-2007, 07:20:46
Houseboat Bridges!!!!

17-08-2007, 07:50:51
Underwater bridgehousing