Waterboard expects more droughts in 2019

Waterboard Rijn en IJssel expects more drought problems next spring, due to the extremely low groundwater level this year. For the water level to recover sufficiently to avoid dry waterways and irrigation bans, it will have to rain every day for months, Weeronline reports.

The waterboard had experts calculate the current state of affairs. Their calculations showed that between 500 and 700 millimeters of rain is needed to restore the groundwater level and the water level in streams and rivers. That is about the amount of rain that usually falls in a whole year, according to the weather service. "And it must be thorough rain. Downpours don't help, because that water washes away immediately", Rijn en IJssel dike warden Hein Pieper said. 

The groundwater level is currently a meter lower than normal in parts of the Netherlands, and it is still falling despite a few showers. While the drought record of 1976 hasn't been broken for the whole of the Netherlands, higher parts of the country are way past that record. On the Veluwe and in the Achterhoek more than half of all streams and ditches are dry. Rijn en Ijssel expects that the irrigation ban in these areas will remain in force throughout the winter - the first time ever that happened in the Netherlands. 

The waterboard is working with provinces, nature organizations, farmers and drinking water companies to find temporary measures to increase the water level. Solutions are also sought on a national level. "If there are drought problems in the east, the west also suffers from it. We know a great deal about flood control, but little about solutions for low water", Pieper said to Weeronline.