The region’s groundwater level is still on the low side, says the province’s waterboard, Waterschap De Dommel.
Most of the monitoring wells are just above the limit value. The waterboard uses these to check the groundwater level. But it’s just high enough for farmers to water their meadows. They’re allowed to do so from 1 April to 1 June.
Every year on 1 April, the Brabant water boards decide whether irrigation can be allowed. They base that decision on groundwater levels. This grassland irrigation rule is intended to protect the province’s groundwater supply.
It applies not only to meadows but also sports and artificial grass fields, and golf courses. This regulation doesn’t include fields of arable crops like maize or vegetables. Growers may irrigate them if needed.
In 2019, the waterboard banned the watering of grasslands for the first time. That’s because the recent years’ dry weather has caused a groundwater shortage. Winter precipitation usually replenishes the natural groundwater supply. In the dry 2018, 2019 and 2020, that didn’t happen to a sufficient extent.
A dry, warm spring or summer could lead to an underground water shortage again in 2021. High temperatures cause much of the surface water to evaporate quickly. Waterboard De Dommel says dry weather is especially detrimental to Brabant’s sandy soil. The sand causes the groundwater to run off quickly.
The water authority had already made the necessary adjustments. That’s so that the water in streams and ditches remains there for longer. These changes have affected the level for the first time this year.
‘Not what is should be yet’
That’s according to the waterboard. The groundwater level isn’t yet what it should be, though. “The weirs have been higher since autumn,” writes the waterboard on its website.
“That’s resulted in fuller ditches. As little rain as possible is drained away via ditches and streams. So the water has more time to sink into the ground and replenish the groundwater supply.”
“These changes seem to be paying off. It’s only the beginning of what’s needed for a healthy groundwater level, though,” reads the website.
Translator: Melinda Walraven