Water for pools or jacuzzis should cost 'significantly more', Antwerp governor says

Water for pools or jacuzzis should cost 'significantly more', Antwerp governor says
A child takes a dip in a swimming pool in Antwerp. BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM

People who use tap water to fill their swimming pools or jacuzzis should pay a significantly higher rate for doing so, Antwerp provincial governor Cathy Berx proposed in light of the water scarcity in Belgium.

The number of people that have their own swimming pool is exponentially increasing in Belgium. Depending on its depth, a swimming pool can hold between 1.25 million litres of water (1 m depth) to 2.5 million litres of water (2 m depth), meaning many families are using much more tap water than others.

While some parts of Belgium will see rainfall this week, this will not make up for the weeks of drought the country has experienced. This is why Berx wants to make individuals, but also companies, who consume too much tap water pay a significantly higher rate, according to reports from VRT News.

"Water is a precious commodity for which a fair price must be paid. Now the drought is also playing a role, but it is important throughout the year that we use drinking water very sparingly," she said.

Democratic water use

A measure is already in place in Flanders which sees households pay the basic rate for basic consumption — 30 m³ per residential unit plus 30 m³ per resident per year to cover drinking, cooking, and washing — while a so-called "comfort rate," twice the basic rate, is applied for excess use.

However, according to Berx, doubling the rate is not making it expensive enough. "It is an increased rate, but the price of our drinking water remains low. Even the comfort tariff does not correspond to the correct value of our water and does not provide enough incentive to use tap water sparingly."

By imposing this measure, involving different tariffs Berx hopes to ensure drinking water for domestic use remains affordable, while large-scale consumers will have to pay more.

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"The basic need of every human being must remain very affordable and democratic. But the luxury use of water, such as for jacuzzis and swimming pools or to water lawns, should be charged at a different rate. A lot of drinking water goes to waste there," she said, adding that other types of water, such as collected rainwater, can be used for other purposes.

In this way, people who want to fill up their pool can do so but will have to fork out much more for it. Environment Minister Zuhal Demir is in charge of adjusting the rates and is currently busy consulting experts.

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