The drinking water supply in Zeeland is not directly endangered by the drought. Where does our drinking water actually come from?
Zeeland itself has no major freshwater sources and is dependent on water from outside the province for tap water. It is supplied from rivers or deep soil layers from North Brabant and South Holland. Drinking water is therefore made from surface water, say the rivers, or from groundwater that is pumped up from great depths.
In Central Zeeland, water comes from the tap that many centuries ago came down as precipitation far outside Zeeland and slowly sank deep into the ground. The water entered West Brabant via underground streams. Water company Evides draws from this underground stream, which is located at a depth of up to 100 meters under the Brabantse Wal.
These deep wells are not dependent on rain that falls now. That is different for surface water. For Zeeland, this mainly concerns the Bergsche Maas, which is fed by the Maas. The water level depends on the amount of precipitation that falls in the river basin of the Meuse. That covers parts of France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
In the nature reserves around Bergen op Zoom, Evides pumps up groundwater from great depths. Residents of Walcheren, Noord- and Zuid-Beveland and Tholen receive water from the water extraction areas Halsteren, Ossendrecht and Huijbergen. The groundwater is at a depth of eighty to 100 meters. Clay and loam layers separate the soil layers at the surface from the deep sources of drinking water. The Ossendrecht water extraction area is located on top of the Brabantse Wal. The Huijbergen water extraction area is located in the northernmost tip of the Kalmthoutse Heide Border Park, of which the area near Ossendrecht is also a part. Halsteren water extraction area is located on the eastern border of the Brabantse Wal.
Zeeuws-Vlaanderen receives drinking water from the three large reservoirs in the Biesbosch, which are fed with water from the Bergsche Maas. These huge artificial lakes hold water for two to three months. As a result, the low(er) river level currently has no consequences for the supply of drinking water to consumers, nor for the companies that receive water from the Meuse, according to Evides. The appeal to be economical with drinking water mainly has to do with the prevention of peaks in use.
Schouwen-Duiveland drinks water that is extracted from the Haringvliet, the wide water between Goeree-Overflakkee and the ‘mainland’ of the province of South Holland. After the Haringvliet water has been pre-treated at Goeree-Overflakkee, it is pumped into the dunes. The dunes are a natural filter. It is then pumped up and made suitable as drinking water. Drinking water was also extracted in the Oranjezon nature reserve on Walcheren until the mid-1990s.
In the forests around Clinge, Sint-Jansteen and Heikant, Evides purifies surface water for industry. Water has been extracted here since the 1930s. The water comes from the surrounding polders and sinks into the ground through special infiltration channels. Evides then pumps the water out of the ground again via shallow drains and makes it suitable for its customers in a purification plant. Most of the water is intended for industry. But in case of emergency, drinking water can also be supplied to the residents of Hulst from this area.