Archive picture from last summer. AFP or licensors

As water shortage risks remain, the Flemish government works out a water rationing plan

After last year's exceptional drought, ground water levels still haven't recovered. The past few weeks have also been particularly dry. We are now in a danger zone, and it's better to be prepared if it would come to the worst, the Flemish government argues. It is now working out a water rationing plan for the summer of next year. 

After a plan for controlled electricity black-outs (due to winter fears of a power shortage, but the plan has never been used so far), the Flemish government is now working on a water rationing plan. 

Last summer was one of the driest in history. However, while we had good rainfall last winter and at the start of March, this was not enough to let ground water levels return to normal. "We are two months of average rainfall behind", the VRT's weather presenter Frank Deboosere underlines. Ground water levels remain "very low" in one third of the measuring points in Flanders. 

It is a complicated matter. We will try to involve every player in society

The plan will determine which players in society will be cut off from water supplies first when the situation would become very bad. "Compare it to the situation in South-Africa last year", says Katrien Smet of the Flemish Environmental Agency VMM. "It's important to have a plan for a possible crisis. But it's not easy. Who will have priority access to water when there is not enough for everybody? We are looking at this from a wide angle, and we will involve the industry, environmental organisations, farmers, and members of the public."

"If you would ask members of the public, they will say the people should be granted priority, and next animals and nature. But it's not that easy. If you cut off the industry, this will impact on the economy."

The environmental organisation Natuurpunt says it's good that the government is taking the issue seriously. But they hope that nature and the animals will not get the lowest priority."