No extra measures against drought for now, but 'situation is serious'

No extra measures against drought for now, but 'situation is serious'
Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem

Despite the continuing drought and the upcoming heatwave in Belgium, the Flemish Government's advisory group on droughts did not propose any additional measures to combat possible water shortages.

Additional measures are not necessary at this time, and the only water-saving measures that are currently in force across the entire territory are the temporary abstraction bans on all unnavigable waterways.

"The situation is indeed serious, but we remain in code orange," said Katrien Smet, spokesperson for the Flemish Environment Agency (VMM), in a press release on Monday afternoon. In practice, this means that there is no ban on watering your garden or washing your car, for example.

“We are better prepared for the drought than a few years ago: we have more figures available, there is an assessment framework, a strategic plan for the water supply and numerous actions are being carried out via Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir's Blue Deal," she added.

While Smet said that all these precautions are paying off, the situation remains serious and "we need to use the water that we have sparingly."

Due to the persistent drought, the Flemish Waterway had previously already decided to take effective measures to use water sparingly: ships are being locked in groups, which saves water and adapts the weir management. Water harvesting for nature and agriculture in Limburg and the Kempen canals will be reduced to 80%, among other measures.

On Thursday 18 August, the Drought Committee, which consists of the provincial governors, a representative of the drinking water companies, a representative of the water treatment company Aquafin and representatives of the VMM, will meet again to discuss the situation.

Additionally, the VMM stressed that there is currently still a sufficient supply of drinking water, and that there are no problems with production – but explicitly calls for all wer to be used sparingly. "Everyone has to be creative to save water, cities and municipalities can also set an example," said Smet. "We do not know how long the drought will last."

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