NL residents could be charged more if they use excessive water
As drought grips the Netherlands, drinking water companies and the government are investigating whether they can charge higher prices to consumers and companies that use excessive amounts of drinking water. They hope this will raise awareness of the water shortage and prompt Netherlands residents and businesses to use the scarce commodity more sparingly, AD reports.
The water companies are looking to Belgium as an example. There, consumers pay a basic price for the amount of drinking water the average household uses per person. For water used on top of that, they pay the “comfort price,” which is double the basic price. This way, drinking water remains affordable as a basic necessity, and extra is charged for excessive use like filling the pool or watering the garden.
“Different rates in combination with more information and water-saving techniques can contribute to more economical water use and more awareness among consumers,” said Madelon Vink of De Vewin, the association of drinking water companies in the Netherlands.
De Vewin stressed that drinking water companies could currently meet their supply obligations. “But we foresee that we will face immense challenges in a few years,” Vink said to the newspaper. “To supply enough drinking water in the future, a transition is really needed. And the business community, governments, consumers, and the drinking water companies all have to contribute.”
Hans Middendorp, vice chairman of the General Water Board Party, which is represented in 17 of the 21 water boards in the Netherlands, also likes the Belgian model of charging for drinking water. Every Dutch person, rich or poor, must be able to drink unlimited water from the tap, he said. But should every Dutch person also be able to fill his swimming pool every summer day, water his garden, and wash his car?
The Belgian system works, Middendorp said. “A Flemish resident only consumes 89 liters of drinking water per day. The average daily drinking water consumption in the Netherlands is about 125 liters per person.” He added that Netherlands households use two-thirds of the country’s drinking water. So if they become more economical, it can really make a difference.
But the business community also has to contribute. Everyone in the Netherlands pays 35 cents tax on every cubic meter of tap water, but there is a cap of 300 cubic meters per year. Those who use more don’t pay tax on the water used above 300 cubic meters per year. “That is, of course, bizarre,” Middendorp said. “A household pays an annual tax of 50 euros on tap water, a large company 100 euros per year. That cap has to be removed.”
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management commissioned the Berenschot agency to research systems to stimulate more conscious and sustainable water consumption. The first results are expected in mid-September. Taxing industrial water consumption is on the table for a follow-up study.