NOS News•Today, 17:00
Rijkswaterstaat and the water boards are taking extra measures to bring more fresh water to the west of the Netherlands. This is necessary to prevent salinization (the soil becoming saltier) in the area. The measures will take effect on Monday.
It has been dry for weeks and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. Also in the Rhine catchment area further upstream, it is currently raining little or not at all. That means low water levels in the rivers.
Normally, the west of the Netherlands receives sufficient fresh water via the Hollandse IJssel. If the discharge of the Rhine falls below 1,100 cubic meters per second, a lack of counterpressure will allow saline water from the North Sea to flow further inland, sometimes as far as Gouda. This is the point where fresh water is normally let in at about 25 cubic meters per second.
In times of extreme drought, this intake point becomes salinized due to the low river water discharge. The saline water is harmful to nature and the cultivation of bulbs, trees, fruit and vegetables.
Fresh water is therefore transported from the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and the Lek to the western Netherlands via alternative supply routes. Rijkswaterstaat will open the Princess Irenes sluices near Wijk bij Duurstede from Monday. The lock complex in the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal functions as the freshwater tap for the western Netherlands. Rijkswaterstaat regulates the supply of fresh water for the western part of the Netherlands by opening or closing the ‘tap’ more. The fresh water pushes the saline water back, as it were.
Pumping Station The Captain
On Monday morning, the De Stichtse Rijnlanden water board (Utrecht and surroundings) turned on the De Aanleider pumping station near De Meern, so that extra water is pumped into the Leidsche Rijn. The water level then rises 30 to 60 centimeters. It is only the fourth time in history that this measure has been taken. Previously this happened in 2003, 2011, and most recently in 2018.
Furthermore, from Monday a sailing ban will apply for pleasure craft on the Leidsche Rijn, between Utrecht and Harmelen. Ships can detour via Nieuwegein and Montfoort to rejoin the Oude Rijn at Woerden.