Thursday 19 September 2019

Meuse drinking water provision under threat from drought

The Meuse river near Gennip. Photo: Michielverbeek via Wikimedia Commons

The Meuse (Maas) river is becoming less suitable as a source of water for Dutch households and farmers because of drought and intervention upstream, Trouw reported on Wednesday.

It is not the quality of the water that is central but the quantity, the paper said. The river Meuse is a source of drinking water for almost four million private households, farmers and other businesses in the Zuid-Holland and Zeeland region. Another three million Belgians also use the river for drinking water.

‘The drought is worrying,’ director of river Meuse water companies association RIWA Maarten van der Ploeg  told the paper. ‘Apart from households, industry and farmers are also crying out for water in summer and if there is a pollution incident on top of that the system begins to creak.’

RIWA chairman Wim Drosseart, told the paper alternatives to the river are ‘not feasible or affordable’ and developing water basins is ‘a political hot potato’.

Another threat to drinking water provision in the region are the anti-drought measures taken in other countries.

If everybody starts tinkering with the river you have to wonder what will be left for us,  Drossaert told Trouw. ‘There are hardly any international agreements about the availability and division of water. There is discharge agreement between the Netherlands and Flanders but if there is too little water upstream that is not of much value,’ he said.

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