Myles Franklin | May 24, 2021
I found the intersection of water governance and agriculture to be quite interesting. The conflict between farmers and government exemplifies the rural versus urban conflict, which farmers and rural areas were often on the losing end of. The most populated areas of the Netherlands are cities, specifically dam cities. In order to protect the cities majority of its population from flooding, excess water was typically directed toward rural areas and farmland. This created difficulties for farmers and their livelihoods, which resulted in retaliation from the farmers. Long ago, city halls and police departments had to be placed on top of dams to prevent farmers from attacking the dams and flooding the cities. This created a tense and uneasy relationship between city governments and their rural neighbors.
While the conflict has eased with the advancements in agriculture, irrigation, and environmental sustainability, the relationship between farmers and government remains uneasy. Take the “Room for River” project as an example. The project’s goal was to reduce water levels in the River Meuse, but it forced farmers to relocate in order to achieve that goal. Issues like this create the question of “Who controls the water?” While various sides may have good intentions, which side deserves the prioritization?