Wouda Pumping Station
Moving Water with Steam
Close to one third of the Netherlands is below sea level. Originally, the Dutch used windmills to keep their feet dry, but in the middle of the 19th century steam-powered pumping stations took over; for example Cruquius (1849), now a museum, used to empty the Haarlemmermeer polder. During the last century, many of them were converted to diesel operation, and nowadays most stations are powered by electric engines. One of the last steam pumping stations built is the Wouda Pumping Station (1920) in Lemmer, which is the largest ever constructed and the only one still in use, although in cases of heavy rain only. It has a capacity of 4,000 m³ per minute, allowing for the discharge of some six million m³ of water per day.
The engine room is virtually identical to what it was when it opened a century ago. Eight centrifugal pumps are powered by four tandem compound steam engines, which have a combined capacity of 2,520 h.p. The only significant change to the pumping station was made in the boiler room, with the replacement of the eight original boilers with four larger-capacity Scotch boilers in 1955, and their subsequent conversion from coal to fuel-oil firing twelve years later. On average, the station comes into action only once every two years, but in addition it is brought to steam twice a year for training purposes. The Wouda Pumping Station is open to visitors Tuesday through Sunday from February to December, as well as on Mondays in July & August.woudagemaal.nl