Numerous water boards are opening their pumping stations and watermills to the public this weekend. It is National Pumping Station Day, which coincides with National Mill Day. Mill Day kicked off on Friday. According to the Nederlandse Gemalen Stichting (NGS), most pumping stations will be open on Saturday and Sunday.
Pumping stations still play an important role in regulating water management in the Netherlands. Pumping stations are used to maintain the groundwater level. They also discharge excess water from rivers, ditches, and canals. In addition to naturally draining excess water, drainage, and pumping stations have been indispensable since the early Middle Ages. According to the NGS, about 4,500 pumping stations are currently in operation in the Netherlands. Water mills were particularly important in earlier centuries for keeping the Netherlands dry and habitable. In some places in the country, small windmills still turn to drain a polder.
The Netherlands embraced the invention of the steam engine around 1900. On weekends, for example, the De Cruquius pumping station from 1849, the largest steam engine in the world, will be open. De Cruquius and two other pumping stations were used to drain the Haarlemmermeer polder. However, De Cruquius was shut down in 1933. Furthermore, the 100-year-old Halfweg pumping station, the oldest scoop wheel steam pumping station in the world, was also opened. The ‘t Leven pumping station in Zaandijk will be open to the public for the first time since it was built in 1903. In addition, the UNESCO World Heritage Woudagemaal in Lemmer in Friesland is also open. This pumping station is the last operating steam pumping station in the world.
The opening hours of pumping stations during National Pumping Day vary. Information about this can be found at www.gemalen.nl.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times
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