Drought will remain a problem in the Netherlands if consumers don't cut water use
Companies and residents of the Netherlands must cut back on drinking water usage by at least 20 percent, said Water Management Minister Mark Harbers on Friday. This is one of the measures the Cabinet is introducing to deal with drought in the long term as a result of climate change. The Netherlands must also become more resistant to flooding.
That is why the consequences for water must be taken more into account when planning the Netherlands and dividing up the already scarce space. This not only has consequences for construction, but also for agriculture and the layout of towns and villages.
Last summer, the Cabinet had to intervene in the short term because of extreme drought. With these new rules, the Cabinet wants to agree on different frameworks so that the consequences for water are also taken into account at various decision-making levels. It is also important that water should be used more sparingly, the Cabinet believes. In addition to the 20 percent reduction, Harbers wants fewer discharges of water used for cooling purposes to guarantee water quality.
The news that that the Cabinet wants to raise the groundwater level leaked out earlier this week. This should prevent the ground from sinking during drought and can limit the emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide caused by rot. Farmers have already indicated that they are concerned about the consequences. A higher groundwater level results in soggy soil, which can hinder farmers. In order to respond to droughts, which could become more frequent due to global warming, more fresh water must also be stored in reserves.
At the same time, the Netherlands must be able to better handle flooding. Partly for this reason, rules will be introduced limiting the amount of soil that can be covered by tiles or paving stones. When the soil is covered, it is less able to absorb and store water.
Construction sites are also affected by the Cabinet's plans. There is a desire to stop construction in "places that we will need later for storing and draining water, such as in the deepest parts of deep polders and in the floodplains of rivers."
"We are now increasingly reaching the limits, due to intensive use and climate change," explains Harbers. That is why far-reaching choices are now needed, according to the minister.
Reporting by ANP