The province is increasingly in trouble due to the extreme drought. Short-term solutions, such as bans on irrigation, do not help enough. That is why a commission of inquiry has now investigated what will happen so that water will still come out of the tap in 2040, so that we can still enjoy nature and that agriculture and industry can continue to run. For example, water will probably become more expensive for large users and seawater will be processed into drinking water.
The main recommendations of the committee:
- We need to use less water.
- Water must become more expensive for large users.
- Brackish water or seawater must be made drinkable.
- We must prevent rainwater from being drained quickly through ditches and streams.
- We are allowed to pump up less groundwater and even have to pump water into the ground.
Because if we don’t do anything about groundwater management in Brabant, we will really get into trouble in Brabant.
Years ago, we could not have imagined that it would come to this. Brabant used to be one of the wettest provinces in our country. More than 40,000 kilometers of ditches and streams were diligently dug to drain water as quickly as possible. Groundwater was pumped up by anyone who needed it.
The problem became painfully clear during the extremely dry summers of 2018, 2019 and 2020. There was a lot of damage to nature. Crops dried up and wildfires broke out more and more.
Ultimately, problems may even arise with drinking water, the committee says. Because in the future we will be building more, more drinking water will be needed and also more water for agriculture and industry. Climate change adds another dime. After all, during dry summers crops are irrigated more and more swimming pools are filled.
What must be done?
In order to be more resistant to drought in 2040, the groundwater level must be raised. The groundwater has to be replenished every year with about 150 million cubic meters, 6000 Olympic swimming pools full. It is also allowed to pump 100 million cubic meters less per year. This is only possible if we all start to use considerably less water and, for example, purify water for reuse in agriculture and industry.
Drinking water companies will also have to look beyond groundwater. Some groundwater wells must be closed if, for example, they have a strong drying effect on the soil.
It is therefore necessary to look at other purification techniques, such as making brackish or seawater drinkable. In addition, the committee wants to make water considerably more expensive for large users, in order to force savings.
The approach will differ per area in Brabant. A very different approach is needed in the relatively dry Peel region than in the Beekdalen, for example. It is up to the province and the water boards themselves to draw up an action plan for each area.
The committee wants a drought director to be appointed, someone who can bring and keep the parties involved around the table without political interest.
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