Pesticide contaminates major water source in Netherlands

The Maas river in Venlo, Limburg
The Maas river in Venlo, Limburg. June 2016photo: joophoek / DepositPhotos

The Maas river in Limburg has been contaminated with a pesticide, making it no longer suitable to serve as a source of drinking water, according to broadcaster 1Limburg. Double the acceptable amount of prosulfocarb was found In the river announced the WML, the publicly owned utility that provides water for over a half million households and businesses in Limburg.

The contamination from the herbicide was first discovered 11 days ago. “We know for sure that this substance comes from Belgium,” said Koen Augustijn, spokesperson for WML, in an interview with the regional broadcaster.

Two micrograms of prosulfocarb per liter of water was measured By infrastructure agency Rijkswaterstaat in the river at Eijsden, a village that borders Belgium. The WML was immediately warned, as only one microgram per liter is considered acceptable. 

“We then immediately stopped sourcing drinking water from the Maas,” Augustijn said to 1Limburg. Water utility Evides also stopped using the Maas river for potable water supply in the Rotterdam region as a precaution, according to RTV Rijnmond.

For now, water In Limburg will be provided by Maas river water collected before the excessive prosulfocarb was measured. Should the contamination continue for a lengthy period of time WML clients will be supplied by groundwater extraction.

The Maas river at Eijsden will have to measure below one microgram of prosulfocarb per liter for four consecutive days before it will be allowed back into the drinking water supply.

The river, also known as the Meuse, runs in the Netherlands ending in Vlaardingen in the east, after flowing along Rotterdam, Maastricht and Venlo.