Projects launched to strengthen water supply in case of drought

Summary

Flanders is investing €4 million in projects that can help build a strategic water supply to ensure there will be no shortages as temperatures increase

Water, water everywhere

Flemish environment minister Zuhal Demir is investing €4 million in projects that will help to restrict water shortages during droughts. The series of trial projects primarily target the use and reuse of water with the aim of building a strategic water supply for the region.

Following a series of especially dry summers in Flanders, Demir wants to better protect the region against drought. The subsidies will allow project initiators to experiment with innovative technologies and ways of working, hopefully leading to practical solutions and inspiration for others working in the field.

Projects include a company in Oudenaarde that will transform its former water treatment plants into a basin for rainwater, of which almost 10,000 cubic-metres will be made available to surrounding farms.

In Ninove, meanwhile, four groups are working together to collect and store the rainwater from their roofs. They expect to store approximately 11,000 cubic-metres a year, and will investigate whether further purification to drinking water quality is feasible and whether it is possible to allow excess rainwater to seep into the soil in a controlled manner during wet periods.

These innovative projects can inspire others to also think about water use and re-use

- Minister Zuhal Demir

“These innovative projects, spread over the whole of Flanders, can inspire others to also think about water use and re-use,” Demir said. The projects will be managed by the Flemish Environment Agency.

Meanwhile, Demir has officially recognised a number of new nature reserves, taking the total area of protected land in Flanders to 21,000 hectares – roughly equivalent to 1,000 football fields. The 51 new reserves will be managed by landscape and conservation organisations Natuurpunt, Durme, Limburgs Landschap and Regionaal Landschap Haspengouw en Voeren, which will receive extra funding to carry out the work.

“At the moment, countless associations together manage more than twice the area of nature reserves than the Flemish government does,” Demir said. “Thanks to this recognition, they are eligible each year for resources to further improve the quality of nature in these areas.”

The extra 683 hectares of land include abandoned fields that can be transformed into species-rich grassland or forest and existing forest that will now receive more targeted management. An accessibility plan will also be drawn up for each recognised reserve to determine the number of people who can visit.

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