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Water company Vitens is very concerned about the availability of drinking water in our region
De Gelderlander 30-03-2022, Albert Heller

Water company Vitens is very concerned about the availability of drinking water in our region. Several large companies that wanted to expand and take extra water were already told ‘no’ in 2021. This will happen more often in the coming year, warns Vitens.

ARNHEM – Water company Vitens is very concerned about the availability of drinking water in our region. Several large companies that wanted to expand and take extra water were already told ‘no’ in 2021. This will happen more often in the coming year, warns Vitens.

The company is currently only just managing to meet the growing demand for water from companies and private individuals. Especially in periods of severe drought such as this month, it is difficult to extract sufficient drinking water. To ensure that new companies and homes can also get something from the tap, much more water must be extracted from the ground in Gelderland, says Vitens.

If we do not obtain more permits to extract water from the soil in the coming years, we will no longer be able to adequately cope with works, calamities – such as a broken pipe – or periods of heat and drought.
Spokesperson, Vitens

That’s not easy. The creation of water catchment areas also meets with resistance. Hundreds of fruit growers and nurserymen in the Betuwe, for example, are seriously concerned about the designation of large parts of that area as a possible new water catchment area.

The farmers fear that they will have to deal with lower groundwater levels and more drought if additional water is pumped from the soil around their orchards. Under the name ‘don’t let the crop dry up’ the growers are now resisting with an extensive public campaign. They are supported in this by Betuwe municipalities.

“The big question is what is happening in our body?” Vethaak said. “Are the particles retained in the body? Are they transported to certain organs, such as getting past the blood-brain barrier?” And are these levels sufficiently high to trigger disease? We urgently need to fund further research so we can find out.”

Sufficient water for everyone
The province of Gelderland, on the other hand, argues that even with new extraction areas in the Betuwe, there will still be enough water for households and growers. In addition, the province does not have the time to discuss possible locations with all those parties before making decisions, because of the haste of Vitens.

This is an ideal way to do something about the excessive use of poisons, especially by fruit growers and avenue tree growers in our municipality.
Joop de Jonge, Member of the Council in Buren

Vitens is in a hurry, and not without reason. Last year the water company already had to say no in our region to companies requesting a water connection for new premises: there simply isn’t enough capacity. This will probably also happen next year, confirms a spokesperson from Vitens.

‘Calamities no longer to be absorbed’
The demand for water is growing rapidly. In 2021, Vitens customers will use 7 percent more water than in the year 2015. And that growth is only going to continue. “If we don’t get more permits to extract water from the ground in the coming years,” says the spokesperson for Vitens, “we will no longer be able to properly cope with work activities, calamities – a pipe burst, for example – or periods of heat and drought.” Before 2022, Vitens already expects to have to pump more water at its current locations than the province has issued permits for, the company warns.
Special rules for water extraction areas
If an area is designated for water extraction, then special rules apply for land use. For example, individuals and companies are not allowed to use chemical pesticides in their gardens. It is for this reason that the Party for the Animals in the municipality of Buren is particularly pleased with the possible designation of the Betuwe as a water catchment area. This is an ideal way of doing something about the excessive use of poison, particularly by fruit growers and avenue tree growers in our municipality,” writes council member Joop de Jonge.