Dutch Dialogues Recap

Our community has a unique relationship with water.  Our region features oceans, rivers, and vast wetland areas.  We use it for recreation.  It is what draws us to and captures our fondness for the Lowcountry. Water can also be a threat at times and requires us to think creatively about how we can coexist and live with water. Many of our homes and buildings are on fill that was once water and nature is in the process of reclaiming their land.  The question we must ask ourselves, is how can we share this great area?

The Dutch are considered global experts regarding the concept of living with water.  Nearly a third of the Netherlands is below sea level. For close to a thousand years, the Dutch have designed their cities to accommodate and cohabitate with water in their country.  And since a great flooding disaster in the 1950s, that killed over 1,000 people, the Dutch have taken design and protection extremely seriously.

Dutch Dialogues Session | photo: Kevin Shealy

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, leaders in Louisiana reached out to the Dutch for help and expertise.  This was the genesis for what is now called the Dutch Dialogues.  Since that effort in New Orleans, the Dutch have aided and consulted in Norfolk/Hampton Roads, Houston, Bridgeport, Miami, and other cities around the world.  Now they have come to lend their assistance in helping Charleston design our own water strategy.

In June of 2018, CTAR joined the American Flood Coalitionas a board member and advisor on water policy. Through that relationship, CTAR was invited to attend and participate in the Dutch Dialogues Charleston.  On May 1stand 2nd, a team of experts from the Netherlands and Louisiana were in Charleston for a colloquium.  This two-day event featured professionals from Waggoner & Ball, the Water Institute of the Gulf, the Netherlands, and local experts.

Dutch Dialogues Session | photo: Kevin Shealy

Over those two days of workshops, CTAR had the opportunity to collaborate with hydrologists, geologists, ecologists, environmentalists, engineers, architects, politicians, staff and planners. Such a diverse array of talent and expertise was truly an exciting experience.  We looked at what areasare the most vulnerable and how we can change our current way of doing things, so we have a stronger and more vibrant community. These workshops were only the first steps in a series that will take place throughout the year.

The Dutch and the partnering consultants will return to Charleston in July for a series of design workshops, based on the information gathered during the colloquium.  At that time, we will be able to see what and how we can adapt our way of thinking to better serve the community.  CTAR will continue to participate and work to ensure we produce the best product for Charleston and the surrounding area.  We are thrilled to be a part of such a historic experience and look forward to updating you as the dialogues progress.

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