Flanders tackles mud floods with €1m for protection measures

Summary

Sixteen projects will build dams, pools and other structures to protect communities menaced by soil erosion

Washed away

Environment minister Joke Schauvliege is taking a stand against mud, setting aside €964,000 for 16 projects addressing this sticky problem across Flanders. The investment follows a series of dramatic incidents involving soil erosion and mud floods during 2018.

"Despite the exceptionally dry summer, the persistent rain showers and heavy storms in late May and early June caused problems with water and mud from the coast to Limburg," Schauvliege explained. "These incidents showed that protection against mud is of the highest priority."

Twelve of the projects involve building structures such as dams, grass barriers and pools that will help contain water and mud being washed off agricultural land. Tongeren, in Limburg province, was particularly hard hit in the recent floods and will receive support for four projects, specifically for the communities of Diets-Heur, Berg and Widooie. Meanwhile Sint-Truiden will get money for two projects.

In Flemish Brabant, the support goes to Landen and Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, while in West Flanders projects will be supported in Hooglede, Staden and Tielt.

Erosion coordinators

Money has also been provided for erosion coordinators to work in Kortenaken, Aarschot and Zoutleeuw (in Flemish Brabant) and in Geraardsbergen (East Flanders). Their role will be to help town councils develop strategies to prevent soil erosion and to encourage farmers to help, for instance by leaving grass strips to prevent soil washing off their land.

More measures will be required in future, however. Reporting the projects, De Standaard notes that a quarter of all Flemish agricultural land is subject to soil erosion. The biggest risks are situated in Haspengouw, the Hageland, the Pajottenland and the Flemish Ardennes, it says.

Photo: Storm damage in Kruishoutem, East Flanders, in May 2018
Credit: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga