Threats of water shortages in the Belgian region of Flanders have now become real in a number of municipalities in the province of Flemish Brabant, next to Brussels, informs The Brussels Times.
Last week the five provinces in Flanders banned farmers from withdrawing water from water courses because the water table was very low. Although such a measure is not unheard of, it usually happens later in the year.
Greenpeace’s expert Matteo de Vos warned the region is experiencing a severe drought that could lead to water shortages, and he pointed to global warming as the main cause.
Patrick Meire, expert in ecosystem management from the University of Antwerp noted the chance of dry summers is increasing: “That’s not to say that we will experience a dry summer every year. We may have a wet summer next year.” And in the unpredictability of what will happen a particular year lies the need to prevent, rather than just react. Water reserves are essential, since it is not possible to anticipate the amount of precipitation and when it will come, so there should be an element of caution in water management policy.
This year the situation has caught everyone off guard. Even though the provincial authorities asked the population to conserve water, some users could barely get water out of their taps. Inge Lenseclaes, mayor of Overijse, noted that “For some residents, there’s no longer water coming out of the tap”. Elsewhere in Flemish Brabant, residents have been asked to conserve water. De Watergroep, the company in charge of the water supply in the province, said high water consumption has led to the current shortage problems. The area’s water comes from the Meerbeek reservoir, which in turn comes from other sources.
Belgium is one of the countries in Europe facing high water stress, according to the Water Resources Institute Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, ranking 23rd globally, and only after San Marino, Cyprus and Andorra in Europe.