“Lack of proper water management is driving drought”

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A lack of good water management rather than climate change is driving drought conditions in the Netherlands, experts have said.

According to data from the KNMI weather bureau, the amount of precipitation has increased by 9% in the last 60 years. This is not because it has been raining more frequently but because the intensity of the showers is greater, water expert Flip Witte told current affairs programme Nieuwsuur.

The climate has become wetter but despite this, drought is becoming a pressing problem, Witte said. “Water management is mainly geared towards agriculture. This means we lower the water table to accommodate the use of manure. And then, when dry conditions follow, we have to use sprinklers.”

The wet spring will not help much either, hydrologist Gé van den Eertwegh told the programme. “Surface groundwater may have gone back to its former level but the deeper system is still depleted,” he said.

Plans by the government to up groundwater levels to limit CO2 emissions and prevent subsidence are ‘well-meant but insubstantial because they are not backed up by exact science,” Van den Eertwegh said.

The provincial authorities would have to do more, he said, as they monitor the water boards. Pro-farmers party BBB is currently playing a major role in the formation of provincial governments having won a majority in all 12 provinces.

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