Flemish authorities may introduce strict drought measures next week

The Drought Commission has not yet announced any major additional measures in Flanders to reduce water consumption, administrator-general of the Flemish Environment Agency Bernard De Potter said on Thursday. The sectors have to report to the commission next week on which water saving measures they can take, and which risks they see. Based on these reports, the Drought Commission may recommend (much) stricter measures next week, now that our country is facing a long period of drought. A ban on non-essential water consumption is possible.

The commission advised on Thursday to keep all existing measures in effect to the maximum. This includes the advice to reduce water consumption as much as possible, and a ban on capturing water from unnavigable waterways. At several locks, ships are grouped together and since Monday, pleasure boating is no longer possible on waterways with very little or no commercial traffic.

The Flemish Environment Agency (VMM) emphasises that sufficient drinking water will certainly be available for the coming weeks, but that waterways are a bigger problem. The rainfall of last weekend gave us some extra time, but it is expected the critical level will be reached on the Albert Canal in mid-September.

The Flemish Environment Agency emphasises that sufficient drinking water will certainly be available for the coming weeks, but that waterways are a bigger problem.

The sectors are currently in consultation to see what risks they run once the critical level is reached. Based on this consultation, stricter measures may be announced next Thursday, such as a ban on non-essential water consumption.

Meanwhile in the French-speaking southern region of Belgium, the Walloon government is considering the possibility of imposing general restrictions on water use in the event of a prolonged drought. So far, this has only happened on a local (municipal) level. A new meeting of the drought expertise cell of the regional crisis centre was scheduled for Thursday afternoon. The experts will make an inventory of municipalities where water use is currently restricted, and those that may face them.

In normal circumstances, the municipalities are responsible, but the Walloon government is working on a regulation which will give Environment minister Céline Tellier more authority in this area, so that she can intervene on a larger scale.





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