Netherlands officially has a water shortage due to ongoing drought
Due to the ongoing drought, the Netherlands officially has a water shortage, the government announced on Wednesday. The scarce water will be distributed according to legal agreements so that dikes, peatlands, and very vulnerable nature areas are supplied with water for as long as possible. More measures may follow in the coming weeks.
According to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, there has been an “imminent water shortage” since the middle of last month. Now the government calls it a “de facto water shortage.” This activates the displacement sequence - a statutory measure that prioritizes important areas if a limited amount of fresh water is available. This was already in force in the Vallei en Veluwe water board, but now it applies to the whole of the Netherlands.
The first priority in this plan is to keep the dikes safe and to prevent irreversible damage to nature and peatland. After that, the freshwater will be used to maintain the drinking water and energy supply. Other stakeholders, like industry, agriculture, and shipping, are further down the line.
Minister Mark Harmbers (Infrastructure and Water Management) also wrote to parliament that the Water Shortage Management Team (MTW) would be convened for the first time since 2018. This team consists of Rijkswaterstaat, water boards, drinking water companies, provinces, and three Ministries. It can decide on measures that affect several regions or are even national.
The drinking water supply is not yet endangered, according to the government. But Harbers urged Netherlands residents to “think carefully whether they should wash their car or fill their inflatable pool completely.”
Due to the ongoing drought, various measures were already in place. In parts of the country, there is a ban on irrigation for agriculture. Ships are not allowed to overtake each other on parts of the Gelderse IJssel. The fairway has become too narrow because of the low water level. The Rijkswaterstaat is also keeping the water level of the IJsselmeer as high as possible, because a lot of drinking water comes from the lake.
Reporting by ANP