“The government has done nothing against drought for fifty years,” says this researcher.

Witt believes drastic measures should have been taken in recent years. Photo: Omrup Gelderland

Osterbeek – The government is doing little to combat drought in nature. This is the conclusion of researcher Flip Witte of Oosterbeek, who actually conducted research on the effects of drought on nature about fifty years ago. Nearly fifty years ago, in 1976, we had our driest summer ever, and that would have been the starting point for anti-drought plans. But to his surprise, nothing has really happened since then.

Long summer with little rain. In 1976, the Netherlands experienced extreme heat and drought. In that unforgettable year, Flip Witte is already achieving. The drought is not seen as an accident, but according to Flip it is seen as something policy should be based on.

And this summer was followed by several reports: “A lot of memos have been published on how to better deal with water. A great deal of research has been done into the relationship between water and nature and the dryness of nature. All kinds of measures have been put in place. .money has been spent, but In the end it achieved much less than what was promised.”

A special piece from Gelderland

Witte actually did research here during his student days, when he studied as a cultural technician at the then agricultural college in Wageningen. As an environmental hydrologist, he is interested in the relationship between water and nature. “The blue grasslands are on the Bennekomse Meent, and they are very rich in species,” he said. “It’s a biodiversity hotspot. We only have about 50 hectares of this in the Netherlands.”

It is not an ordinary thirst, but a pleasant thirst

However, that special piece of nature is under pressure. “This kind of plant is thirsty,” his explanation begins. “He has no ordinary thirst, but a gentle thirst: he needs pure water.” But this thirst is not always quenched. The area suffers from drought, due to the decrease of seepage water. “This is because trees are planted in Veloy.” In addition, drinking water is extracted and the area dried.

Did nothing change after that?

However, the water and provincial councils have not been down in recent years. According to Witt, effective measures have been taken at the local level. “Look in Gelderland, for example, to Epe, to Wisselse Veen. This is also a special area and depends on seepage. Drinking water is extracted in that area, but is compensated by seeping water from a stream into that area.”

Actions are being taken, but they are still not enough

In the last years, Gelderland broadcast Regularly show how farmers work with the Rijn en IJssel Water Board to keep water in ditches around farmland for as long as possible. Farmers do this by putting up hurdles and skippy balls. “But these are drops in the ocean,” Witt says. “If you think we have 15,000 kilometers of waterways in the upper Netherlands, you have to hand out a lot of jump balls. So action is already being taken, but it’s still not enough.”

See also: After jumping balls, farmers now combat drought with water hoses

Consequences of not having a policy

According to Witt, we are now seeing the consequences due to the lack of good policy. Drive in the area and you will see, for example, that fields and meadows are turning brown, water companies invite you to be a saver of drinking water and nature dries up. According to Witt, agriculture must be structurally different: “In that farming it must be natural that it sometimes suffers damage due to drought.”

In addition, drinking water extraction sites must also be considered. “Sometimes it is better to move the extraction sites. The water companies and the provinces have to look closely at the consequences of extracting drinking water.”

I think it is realistic that the drinking water infrastructure can no longer handle it

We also need to be more economical with water, says Waite. “Consumers who waste tap water and farmers who water their land indefinitely.”

Is drinking water running out? “I think it is realistic that the drinking water infrastructure can no longer handle it. But there is enough groundwater available. Only this pumping is at the expense of nature, and streams and swamps will dry up. In addition, it can cause damage, For example houses. Yes, there is enough water, but if you want to extract it, it will damage it.”

This publication was created in collaboration with Pointer of KRO-NCRV. An extended interview with Flip Witte can be heard on Radio 1 on Sunday, August 28 between 7-8pm.

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