The Netherlands is officially facing a water shortage due to an extended period of drought. There is more demand for water than comes in through rain and rivers. Therefore, the cabinet announced a distribution plan, with which there should be enough water available in dikes, peat areas and vulnerable nature. The cabinet expects more measures to follow, because the drought and high water demand will probably continue.
Throughout the country, water boards have taken measures to retain and distribute water. For example, they may ban the spraying of crops with surface water or impose lock restrictions on ships. Another part of the plan is to keep the water level of the IJsselmeer as high as possible, from where fresh water flows to much of the Netherlands. In addition, pumps and sluices have been used in several locations to distribute water between rivers.
Whereas the government previously spoke of an "impending water shortage," as of Wednesday a national "actual water shortage" applies based on the water level. According to the government, there is and will continue to be sufficient drinking water available, but "it is important that the Dutch use their tap water consciously". The current situation mainly affects agriculture and shipping, because certain crops cannot always be watered or waterways are impassable. The water shortage also has consequences for nature.
A Water Shortage Management Team (MTW) has been appointed to deal with water policy. The organization consists of people from Rijkswaterstaat, water boards, drinking water companies, provinces and three ministries (Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Economic Affairs and Climate Change and Infrastructure and Water Management).
Minister Mark Harbers (Infrastructure and Water Management, VVD) is appealing to the Dutch population to limit the water shortage. Harbers asks "all Dutch people to think carefully about whether they should wash their car or completely fill their inflatable swimming pool." According to the minister, "The Netherlands is a water country, but even here our water is precious."