Amsterdam canal still filling with diesel after heavy rain despite years of complaints
For decades, the Zijkanaal I in Amsterdam Noord has filled up with diesel and sometimes oil whenever there is heavy rainfall. Houseboat residents have complained about the stench and filth to the municipality, Waternet, and Rijkswaterstaat for years. But there is still no solution in sight, AT5 reports.
“We’ve lived here for 17 years now, and from the start, we’ve been bothered by the smell of sulfur and the diesel that flows into the canal. It’s terrible,” houseboat resident Aldo Corradi told the broadcaster. “Since 2016, I’ve been working with all kinds of authorities. Municipality, Waternet, Rijkswaterstaat. We’re not getting any further. Everyone just turns and turns, they all blame each other, but we’re always stuck with the mess.”
This summer, the Rijkswaterstaat put down oil booms to absorb oil and diesel from the water. Resident Nicole, who has lived on Zijkanaal I for 23 years, is happy with that. “Because that means that at least something is happening. But, of course, it is not a solution,” she said. “It’s a terrible problem. I sleep with my windows open. It’s so bad sometimes, especially lately, that the pungent air wakes me up. It immediately hits my throat, gives me a headache, makes me sick.”
The locals suspect that the diesel comes from one of the companies in the area that discharges too much into the rainwater. “We are down the road from a bus depot, and some smaller companies, and probably all that dirt also ends up in the sewer. If it starts to rain very heavily and too much water comes in, it has to go somewhere. And then it’s pumped here.”
Waternet told AT5 that the Rijkswaterstaat is responsible for the water quality of Zijkanaal I. It and the municipality of Amsterdam are responsible for the discharges from the rainwater sewer into the surface water. Waternet said it has tried to solve this problem. Between 2012 and 2016, it took measurements, installed an oil separator at the GVB, removed faulty connections, and cleaned the sewer. In 2021, it also received a complaint about mineral oil in the water. “However, we were unable to find a clear cause, so we could not take any measures.”
According to Waternent, there may be an “incorrect connection to the rainwater sewer,” which in turn is connected to the wastewater sewer. It is also possible that companies discharge oil into the stormwater sewers. If that happens, it is very difficult to find the source afterward, according to Waternet.
The locals can’t believe that the authorities still haven’t found the cause of the problem after so many years. “Of course, they can find out. We’ve been to the moon, haven’t we?” Aldo said.
Nicole would like to see someone at least take responsibility. “The municipality says it does not know who is responsible for this, which is, of course, a crazy story. You just have to find out. You are responsible for the health of the people who move in and around the water, so that just has to be sorted out. If you want to, you can.”
The municipality told AT5 that it understands the locals’ frustrations and will talk to them about a lasting solution.