kolff: de colve: VIII: 2

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Summary of articles from De Colve VIII - 2003 (2/3)

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Holland lives with water (by Cees L. Kolff)

Holland has been cultivated by people. They made it possible that we can live in this land, of which ¼ lies beneath the level of the sea. The oldest democratic institutions in Holland are the Water Boards (Waterschappen). For centuries, the oldest date back some 700 years, they have been responsible for the protection of life against flooding of the land. Up to approx. 1945 there were 2500 Waterschappen, since then the number has been reduced, by mergers, to 48 and this process continues till the number will be around 25. Apart from protecting the land the responsibilities now also comprise the environment, i.e. clean water. Since the 1848 Constitution the provinces can establish Waterschappen and deal with the areas. that they work in. Certain other items are also arranged by the province, such as the functioning and election of the board. Other than this the Waterschappen are independent. The board, and how it functions, can be compared to a municipal government. Since they have their own boards and their own means of taxation they are able to operate effectively without political influence.

dikes and locks emergency 1953 clean water
To my count some fifteen male members of the Kolff family have been active in the Waterschappen since 1789 (for the names and the genealogy: see the article). Branch C of our family has long been and still is actively involved, either as members of the board or as engineers. I am active since 1985 as Landholder in the Hoogheemraadschap Schieland (polder-board of Schieland). I have always considered it a privilege to have a seat in such a dynamic, modern, yet famous historical organisation.
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