Water drainage

Keeping the region flowing

The fact that water flows through the Emscher and Lippe and their subsidiary waterways as if it were natural is something that we at the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT and LIPPEVERBAND have been organising at great technical and organisational effort for over 100 years in these catchment areas shaped by mining. In the polder areas of the Emscher and the southern Lippe region, numerous drainage pump stations are in operation day and night. Each location is always the lowest point of a low-lying area of land.

So that water does not flow backwards

The regulation of water drainage was one of our key tasks from the beginning. Water takes the path of least resistance. It follows the gradient and always finds the lowest point. If the natural gradient of a waterway is impaired or even disrupted, the water stops flowing and water collects in depressions – or even flows backwards! How can such situations be avoided? There are two ways: on the one hand, we have deepened lower-lying downstream river sections. When rivers and streams struggled to flow, we increased the Gradient in this way. On the other hand, we raised subsided areas of waterway, and secured them with dykes until the level of the previous riverbed was again achieved, thus ensuring that the water continued to flow. Where the waterways of the Emscher and Lippe were elevated by human intervention, dykes needed to be built in order to protect the lower-lying surrounding areas against flooding.

Landscape of dykes and polders

Particularly in the densely populated, highly industrialised iron and coal district, a landscape of dykes and polders thus arose. The construction of numerous dykes and pumping stations became necessary in order to keep the polder zones behind the dykes free from water. The continuously increasing mining subsidence made this water management solution indispensable. Because the landscape was permanently changed by the mining industry, the industry responsible has since borne the costs.