Groundwater reserves ‘low’ to ‘very low’ in Flanders


Farmers are beginning to feel the effect of little rain and above-average temperatures as authorities ask them to stop irrigating

Rain forecast

Farmers in another region in Flanders have now been asked not to pump up groundwater for their crops due to low water reserves. Flanders Environment Agency (VMM) emphasises, however, that there is no shortage of drinking water.

In the Zuidijzer polder area of West Flanders, which runs from the French border to the right bank of the Ijzer in Diksmuide, farmers have been asked to use groundwater only for livestock until further notice. This means they are not allowed to pump water to irrigate crops.

Zuidijzer is the latest in a number of regions and municipalities where farmers and residents have been asked to conserve water because of low reserves. The lack of rain and warm temperatures this summer have caused groundwater levels to drop.

In 60% of the measurements taken, groundwater reserves are considered ‘low’ to ‘very low’. “We have a situation similar to last July with the groundwater,” Katrien Smet of VMM told VRT. “Last year the situation became extremely serious.”

It needs to rain for a few days at a time, she explained, to get the reserves back up. “Short, heavy rains are not sufficient because the water runs off to the sewers much too quickly and is not absorbed into the ground.”

Rain is forecast for today, Friday and Saturday, but Smet emphasises that residents should conserve water where they can. That includes putting off watering the grass and washing the car for a few days or weeks.

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