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Brussels working on region’s first drought plan

18:23 04/06/2020

Following three years of record-breaking summer temperatures and an unusually warm and dry spring, Brussels is working on a drought plan for the very first time. A working group under the leadership of Bruxelles Environnement has been formed and hope to have a set of measures ready by the autumn.

This year saw the driest April and May since measurements began in 1833. Brussels is spared from water shortages, however, because nearly all of its water comes from Wallonia, namely the Modave groundwater reservoir in Liège province and the Meuse river.

Groundwater levels in Brussels, however, reached an all-time low last year. While they are generally back to normal because of a rainy winter and the coronavirus shutdown, the capital wants to ensure that its groundwater levels remain stable.

Thirsty trees

The drought plan will become part of Brussels’ general water management plan, which is due for a third version to be published in 2022. All of Belgium’s regions are required to produce an updated water management plan every six years.

The current version already contains measures for the conservation of water, “but the current situation is different,” Michael Antoine of Bruxelles Environnement told Bruzz. “This has repercussions for Brussels’ soil and vegetation. The water sources are replenished in the winter, but there may still be surface drought or a shortage of water in the plants due to the weather conditions of previous weeks. That is why a drought plan is important.”

Bruxelles Environnement is especially concerned about the trees. “They are becoming weaker, and we are finding more dead trees,” said Laurent Somme of the agency. “A lack of water accelerates the death of trees weakened by disease.”

Photo ©Mtreasure/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Written by Lisa Bradshaw