With another dry month of summer ahead, the National Water Distribution Coordination Committee (LCW) will meet on Wednesday to discuss new measures for ensuring sufficient drinking water in the coming weeks, sources told De Telegraaf. The committee of experts convenes when water scarcity looms.
The water levels in Dutch rivers, including the Rijn – an essential source of fresh water in the Netherlands – are approaching historically low points. There is less groundwater due to the drought. And no significant rain is forecast for the coming weeks.
It is therefore obvious that the government will have to implement restrictions on water use in large parts of the country, sources close to the government said to the newspaper. The Cabinet may also scale up the LCW and put the “displacement series’ on the table. That indicates which sectors and facilities are essential and must be spared from measures for as long as possible. That includes drinking water for citizens and keeping dikes filled enough to prevent shifts.
“In that case, decisions are taken step by step on where cuts and deliveries have to be made,” Frans Klijn of Deltares explained to the newspaper. “For farmers, this often means a ban on irrigation, while citizens are urged to take shorter showers and not to fill swimming pools.”
Professor Piet Verdonschot agrees that the drought is severe this year, partly because there is little precipitation in large parts of Europe and, therefore, less flow to our delta. But he thinks a change in policy is due. “[The displacement series] was created to combat incidents, but we have been seeing a pattern of drought and scarcity for several years.” The Rijn is a glacial river. “But much of the ice has already melted away, making it a rain river in the coming decades. As a result, much less water will flow our way in the longer term.”
“We will not get those glaciers back, but we can think about storage and retaining rainwater much more,” Verdonschot said. That will need a fundamental change in the Netherlands’ water management, including landscape adjustments to use flood plains as buffer locations and closing dry ditches to catch and retain water.