For the second year in a row, the precipitation deficit in Achterhoek and Twente reached the same level as in late July 1976 - the driest year ever in the Netherlands, the Union of Waterboards reported on Wednesday. "This region has had a hard time for two consecutive year", said Hein Pieper of waterboard Rijn en IJssel and vice-president of the Association of Waterboards, NU.nl reports.
An irrigation ban is in effect in the Achterhoek, Twente and parts of Drenthe from noon on Thursday. From then farmers in these areas are not allowed to use surface water for watering their fields, waterboards Rijn en Ijssel and Vechtstroom announced on Wednesday, NU.nl reports.
King Willem-Alexander and Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management visited Arnhem on Tuesday morning to see what measures the municipality is taking to make the city resilient to extreme weather conditions brought on by climate change. Arnhem residents have been confronted by flooding rainwater multiple times in recent years, and there are areas in the city where residents experience so-called heat stress.
Multiple municipalities in the east of the Netherlands decided to ban the traditional Easter bonfires this weekend. Sparks from the bonfires can lead to wildfires, and due to the drought there is a greater risk of these wildfires spreading rapidly and getting out of control, NU.nl reports.
The consumption of drinking water in the Netherlands is increasing, while collecting drinking water is becoming increasingly difficult due to dryer conditions, drinking water company Vitens warned on Wednesday. According to the company, the demand for water is growing too strongly and that needs to change, NU.nl reports.
While perhaps more commonly known for floods than droughts, The Netherlands is allocating seven million euros to combat excessively dry seasons in the country. The money will be used to build larger water reservoirs in sandy areas, to monitor levels of evaporation, and to reduce the impact of salinization on drinking water production, the government announced on Friday.
The consequences of last year's dry summer are still noticeable in large parts of the Netherlands. The average precipitation deficit in the country is currently at 65 millimeters, while there is usually a surplus of around 200 millimeters on March 31st, Weeronline reports.
While Friday is starting out gray and foggy, the Netherlands can look forward to a sunny weekend with spring-like temperatures, according to Weeronline. The sun will break through the clouds by Friday afternoon, with maximums climbing to between 10 and 12 degrees.
Over the weekend maximums between 12 and 15 degrees are expected. The first half of week will be even warmer. The sun will work overtime and afternoon temperatures can climb to up to 18 degrees. Late next week will see more clouds and a slightly better chance of rain, according to the weather service.
After the exceptionally dry year last year, the Netherlands will continue on the same foot in the coming weeks with little to no rain expected. As the groundwater level has still not recovered to standard everywhere in the Netherlands, this may mean that farmers in some areas will have to kick off the growing season with an irrigation ban. Farmers and waterboards are very concerned, AD reports.
Waterboard Rijn en IJssel expects more drought problems next spring, due to the extremely low groundwater level this year. For the water level to recover sufficiently to avoid dry waterways and irrigation bans, it will have to rain every day for months, Weeronline reports.
Snow is expected in the Alps this weekend and that is good news for the Rijn river, according to Weeronline. After the weekend the water level in the Rijn will not fall further, and may even rise a bit, the weather service expects.
The snow is expected in France, Switzerland, southern Germany and the northern parts of Austria. "A few dozen centimeters of snow are expected above 1,500 meters. Around 50 millimeters of precipitation will fall and that is good news for the water level in the Rijn", Weeronline writes.
The drought in the Netherlands is still persisting. On Monday afternoon the water level in the Rijn river at Lobith was 6.73 meters above sea level, thereby breaking the previous low record of 6.87 meters from August, De Gelderlander reports.
Landscape ecologist Alphons van Winden expects the water level in the Rijn to drop another 20 to 25 centimeters if it doesn't start raining in the river's catchment area. "As it looks now, we are going to set a new record every day this week. The water level just continues to fall."
The rainfall over the past week was not enough to solve the precipitation deficit in the Netherlands, according to the national water distribution committee LCW. The drought measures will therefore remain in place. The quality of the surface water is also decreasing, NU.nl reports.
There's an increase of botulism and blue-green algae all over the country. The number of fish dying due to the poor water quality is also increasing.
Four campsites were evacuated due to a large forest fire in the Drenthe town of Wateren on Tuesday afternoon. Around 75 hectares of heathland burned down. The fire department got the fire under control around 9:00 p.m., but some 150 firefighters worked throughout the night to extinguish it completely, RTL Nieuws reports
There is officially a nationwide water shortage in the Netherlands, but the drinking water is not in danger, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. As the drought is expected to continue in the coming weeks, more measures may be taken to distribute the available water as well as possible, NU.nl reports.
Nature lovers who look forward to a purple Posbank each summer, will be disappointed this year, according to naturalist Gerrit Jansen. The heather that turns the hills purple with its blossoms is withered by the persistent drought and will hardly bloom this year, he said to De Gelderlander.
Every year the purple glow over the hills of the Posbank - a national attraction - attracts thousands of visitors in the second half of August. This year they will be disappointed.
This July was the driest ever since rainfall measurements started in the Netherlands. Only 11 millimeters of rain fell nation wide this month, breaking the previous record of 16 millimeters in July 1921, Weeronline reported on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the last day in July, there is a chance of some rain in the north and west of the country. At most another 1 millimeter of rain will fall. Weeronline therefore feels safe to say the record is broken.
The Netherlands is "blind to drought" according to researcher Henny van Lanen of Wageningen University. The country needs to build up larger reserves of fresh water to prevent drinking water running out during extreme droughts, multiple experts warn, Het Parool reports.
"As a low lying country with large rivers, we are always working on preventing wetness. That explains why we are now so surprised by the drought", Van Lanen said to the newspaper. "Dutch water policy is very conservative: the rest of Europe has been arming itself against drought for much longer."
The number of wildfires in the Netherlands increased significantly this year. So far in 2018 there were already more wildfire reports than there were in the entire 2016 and 2017, according to figures from alarmeringen.nl, RTL Nieuws reports.
In 2016 a total of 1,293 reports were made of forest, heath and other wildfires. In 2017 there were 1,530. The wildfire report counter for this year already stands at 1,728.
The Dutch union for arable farmers NAV asked Minister Carola Schouten of Agriculture to let potato farmers irrigate their crops with surface water, also in areas where a ban is currently in place. The NAV warns that many farmers are in danger due to the persistent drought, ANP reports.
The province of Friesland, Wetterskip Fryslân and water company Vitens are appealing to Friesland residents to take water saving measures. Due to the heat and drought, the demand for drinking water is 30 percent higher than normal, RTL Nieuws reports.
The "unprecedentedly high" demand is resulting in decreased water pressure, especially during peak times and in high buildings.
Friesland residents are called on not to use drinking water for watering their gardens or washing windows and cars. Also keep your shower as short as possible.
It is currently drier in the Netherlands than it was on July 25th, 1976 - the driest year in the Netherlands since measurements started. The average precipitation across the Netherlands stands at 261 mm on Wednesday. In 1976 it was 257 mm, according to Weeronline.
Whether the absolute drought record from 1976 will be broken this year, depends on what August's rainfall will look like, according to the weather service. In 1976 the precipitation deficit increased to 363 mm in August.
Meteorological institute KNMI issued a code orange weather warning for extreme heat in the entire country, except for the Wadden area. The warning is in place from 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday until Friday.
The Netherlands is dealing with tropical temperatures this week, with maximum temperatures above 30 degrees. Thursday and Friday will be especially hot. Maximums of 35 degrees Celsius or higher are expected inland and in urban areas. The nights will also be warm, with minimus around 20 degrees.
This summer is fast becoming the driest summer the Netherlands ever had. It seems almost certain that the drought record dating from the summer of 1976 will be broken in the coming days, meteorologist Brian Verhoeven of Buienradar said to RTL Nieuws.