We are already using a lot of drinking water in the Netherlands, and the demand for it is only increasing. Some of our drinking water comes from surface water. But another part, especially in the higher areas of our country, comes from the subsurface, the earth’s strata. With the demand for drinking water being so high, we need to dig deeper into those strata to find it. This is where we run into limits.
Groundwater models are used to calculate the effects of drinking water production. TNO spoke to Stefanie Bus, geohydrologist at the Geological Survey of the Netherlands (GDN), about this complex issue. According to Bus, many groundwater models use continuous low permeability layers, but that does not reflect reality. ‘There are often gaps in those layers. This can in turn lead to unforeseen groundwater decline, salinisation, contamination, iron clogging, etc. All these phenomena underline the importance of detailed knowledge of the subsurface. Water abstraction is going deeper and deeper. Here in Utrecht, we are already on our third and fourth aquifer. Rainwater takes more than 200 years to arrive at these aquifers. In Brabant, they want to move to even deeper aquifers for peak situations, as the current capacity is unable to meet the demand. We are already facing the consequences of installing pumping systems everywhere, since our water system is designed to drain water, and not to retain and conserve it in summer.’
You can read the complete interview here.