Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/561

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THE DRAINING OF THE ZUIDER SEA.

all the harbors, placing the canals under better control and converting the remnants of the sea into a body of fresh water, so that in case of overflows the land will not be damaged as it is now.

By doing the work in this piecemeal fashion, covering thirty-three years, only 24,000 acres will be added annually. This can be brought under cultivation without causing any disturbance to agricultural conditions in the country or affecting the markets of foodstuffs. Then too, by the gradual draining of the sea the fishery interests will not be suddenly imperilled, and persons now engaged in fishing will have time to adjust themselves to the new conditions.

Heretofore the littoral rights have been the most difficult to adjust. The people realized that many of the cities of Holland have been 'built on herring bones,' that the fishing fleets were the schools in which so many Dutchmen had learned the sailors' trade, and that it was on the sea that Holland won her greatest victories of peace as well as of war. The Commission, therefore, made a close study of this question. They ascertained how much money is invested in the Zuider Sea fisheries, how many men are employed, and what the annual catch amounts to. They learned that the investment was less than had been surmised, that many of the fishermen spent only a small part of the time fishing and that acre for acre the egg sales in the Haarlem polder exceeded the fish caught from the Zuider Sea. However, it is understood that some must suffer in being obliged to change their mode of earning a livelihood, and provision is made for lending assistance. All persons having vessels large enough to engage in the North Sea fisheries are to be exempt from harbor dues when returning with a catch; all men over fifty-five years of age who are now devoting the greater part of their time to fishing will receive a pension, and the smaller craft will be purchased by the State.

When this new province becomes a part of the Union, it will be divided into districts of the most approved size, with ground reserved for schools, churches, cemeteries and town halls.

But it is not intended to sell the land thus acquired. The interest on first cost and the maintenance is all that is asked of the occupants who become perpetual lessees of the ground. This amounts to an annual tax of about $7 per acre. The rentors are to erect their own buildings and be subject to the usual rate of asssessment on all personal property. Inasmuch as land in the Y polder rents for twenty dollars per acre and some for even more, it is thought that the price here expected can be easily obtained.

Dividing up the sea by polders and building a sea dyke across its mouth will lessen the dangers from storms and overflows and diminish the cost of maintenance of the long dyke that now fringes the entire sea. By leaving open water between the polders where the deepest