Monday 22 July 2019

Water shortage is nationwide but drinking water not yet affected

This angling club near Enschede is moving fish to deeper pools. Photo: Herman Engbers via HH

The Netherlands now has an official nationwide water shortage due to the ongoing drought and dropping river water levels, the infrastructure ministry said on Thursday.

‘This means there is not only a water shortage on higher ground, but in other places as well,’ the ministry said, following talks with water boards, weather forecasters and provincial governments.

A special crisis team is now assessing what measures need to be taken to cope.

‘Botulism, fish deaths and blue-green algae are increasing,’ the statement said. ‘The low water levels in the rivers mean ships cannot be properly loaded and industry is, in some cases, unable to get rid of water used for cooling.’

On a national basis, choices now need to be made about how to allocate water resources for shipping, agriculture, industry, inland fisheries, nature and recreation, the department said.

‘Drinking water supplies are not under threat but consumers are being asked not to waste it,’ the statement said. Dyke security is another issue. When they become too dry, the dykes can crack, leaving them permanently damaged.

New record

Experts now expect the water shortage to mount up to 308 millimetres, beating the shortage in 1976.

Farmers have already been banned from using surface water for their crops in parts of Limburg, Brabant, Gelderland, Overijssel and Drenthe. The farm ministry has already said farmers will not be compensated for damage to their crops because they could have taken out insurance.

The KNMI weather bureau said on Thursday there will be more rain in the coming days but far from enough to reverse the drought.

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