Belgian coast fights droughts by trying to turn sea water into drinking water
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    Belgian coast fights droughts by trying to turn sea water into drinking water

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    Faced with increasing periods of drought, a Belgian coastal town is researching ways to turn salt water into safe drinking water through a new filtration factory, which will be built by local water company AGSO Knokke-Heist.

    The plans aim to provide Knokke-Heist, located on the Flemish coast near the Dutch border, with a reliable source of drinking water in times of shortage.

    According to news source VRT, it took only four months for 2020 to become one of Belgium’s driest years.

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    For Knokke-Heist, the situation became critical on multiple occasions. The municipality put out guidelines on how to save water. Efforts to save water were encouraged, as lowering naturally present fresh water levels below sea level could mean that the fresh water supply would be contaminated by salt water.

    “We’ve always been able to keep the water running from the taps,” a representative for AGSO Knokke-Heist, Johan Cabooter, told het Nieuwsblad. “But during the summer, when we receive a load of tourists, some days have been perilous.”

    Of Knokke-Heist’s water supply, 20% is sourced locally. The rest is imported from the Netherlands and the Ardennes. The external supply, however, came close to failing when water reserves would dry up in those areas as well.

    By building its own filtration factory, Knokke-Heist hopes to be less dependent on external water sources. When the factory is put into service, the municipality aims to provide 1 million cubic metres of drinking water, which constitutes 40% of the local water needs.

    The city of Ostend and the municipality of Nieuwpoort have similar plans to increase Belgium’s local drinking water supply.

    Amée Zoutberg
    The Brussels Times