Next Wednesday the ballot boxes open for the water board elections. Frank Aarts (political party: 50Plus) and Gudule Martens (‘Water Natuurlijk’, water natural) are two Eindhoven candidates during the elections for ‘Waterschap’ (water board) the Dommel. “Nature is suffering from the drought. We have to do something about that”.
For most people, water board elections are not that well known. Many do not really know what to choose: after all, everyone wants clean, sufficient and safe water, but nature is important too right? Still, according to Frank and Gudule, it is important to vote.
“Water is a basic necessity of life”, Frank says. “We need water to drink, but also to brew beer. I think that’s pretty important, too”, Gudule says. In addition, each party has different ideas about how we should handle water. Therefore, it does matter a lot which party voters vote for, the two candidates believe.
Gudule and Frank have several focal points. Fighting drought is high on Gudule’s agenda. According to her, the groundwater level must rise. “In recent years it has been so dry in Brabant. Nature is suffering. Several plants and animals are almost impossible to find in this area. The bittern for example. It belongs in Brabant, but if there is no water, there are no fish and therefore no food for this bird”.
Not only the disappearing plants and animals are a problem. The drought increases the fire danger in the forests. “In the Netherlands we’ve been lucky for now, but we’ve all seen what a big forest fire does in Australia”, she said.
To raise groundwater levels, the groundwater system in Brabant must change. “The system was created after World War II to grow as much food as possible. To do so, the groundwater level was kept as low as possible. All the water that comes in through the rain goes straight to the sea. But we also need to keep it here for many purposes, for example for drinking water”.
Frank especially wants to make sure everyone keeps their feet dry. “The Dommel floods when it rains heavily and the river water level rises. Here, at Dommeldal Vaartbroek, the river floods too. You don’t want the residential area adjacent to the area to risk being flooded as well. The Dommel also flows in the centre of Eindhoven. How do we ensure that the river can continue to flow through the city without causing too much inconvenience? A water board has to find a balance for this”.
Ensuring that the Dommel does not cause any nuisance can be done by creating barriers and dams. Rechanneling the river so that it meanders more, is also a good solution. Like this also more water is absorbed by the land. “But of course we also have to look at the costs. Is it necessary to divert the river or build a barrier?”
In addition to dry feet, Frank believes it is important not to look only for short term results, but also to look to the future. “The water boards should plan for the time to come and not wait until there is a problem. That way the world stays livable for future generations and it saves a lot of costs”.
Polls open next Wednesday. Twelve parties are participating in the Dommel Water Board elections.
Here you can find a digital voting help (in Dutch).
Translated by: Bob