Water, water everywhere! We’ve grown accustomed to canals, dikes, and locks; in the Netherlands controlling the water levels is vital since 26% of the country actually lies below sea level. As the saying goes, “God created the Earth and the Dutch created Holland.” The Dutch have reclaimed large areas of land from the sea, called a polders, and protected that land for centuries. We visited one of highlights of Dutch engineering, the D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station.The Wouda Pumping Station is the largest steam-driven pumping station in the world still in operation. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. Entering through the modern visitor center, there is an interactive exhibit for visitors and a 3-D movie which showed us the the pumping station in action. The pumping station gets “fired up” once or twice annually to prevent Friesland from flooding. When operating, the station is capable of pumping four-million liters of water per minute! Pumping at this rate the station can empty an Olympic size swimming pool in 35 seconds. It pumps water up from Friesland, out into the Ijsselmeer.Walking into the pumping station is like walking back through time. The building and mechanical equipment are impeccably preserved. In fact, with the exception of having converted the boilers from coal to oil during the 60’s, the mechanical equipment is all original from its 1920 inception.
Each 500hp steam engine runs two water pumps; 4-engines, 8-pumps.