High to very high groundwater levels in our region

According to figures from the Flemish Environment Company (VMM) groundwater levels at most locations in our region are currently high to very high. July was cooler and wetter than normal. The lower temperatures meant that less of the rain that fell evaporated and of course there was more rain. Unusually for a summer month like July groundwater levels at most places where measurements are taken rose rather than fell last month.  

At 72% of the locations where VMM takes measurements groundwater levels were high to very high for the time of year. At 7% of locations were groundwater levels low to very low. 

The current situation is the opposite of what it was last year when levels were low to very low at 7 out of 10 of the locations in Flanders where groundwater levels are measured. 

In recent years groundwater levels in Flanders have been giving cause for concern. A lack of groundwater close to the surface poses problems for water supplies as around half of tap water in Flanders comes from groundwater.,

The reservoirs that can be used to ensure continuation of supply if groundwater levels prove insufficient are also still well-filled? The Leuven University KUL hydrologist Patrick Willems told VRT News that supplies from these emergency reservoirs have not been used so far this year as there has been sufficient rainfall.

The places where groundwater levels remain low to very low are situated in the south of Limburg Province and Flemish Brabant. There it takes longer for the groundwater table to respond to climatic conditions. It takes longer for rainwater to seep through to the layer of shallow groundwater. A longer period of excess precipitation (overall precipitation less the amount of precipitation that is evaporated) is also required there before groundwater levels starts to rise.

Patrick Willems says that the current high groundwater levels don’t mean that we won’t have issues with water shortages at some time in the future. “All it takes is a dry summer and it could all be gone again. So, this is no guarantee for the long term”. 

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