Guaranteeing drinking water availability

The government has measures in place to ensure drinking water availability.

Sufficient good-quality drinking water

As a basic human need, water is a public good. That’s why high quality drinking water must always be in sufficient supply.

Measures to guarantee drinking water availability

The government is doing the following to ensure the availability of drinking water:

Safeguarding ground water extraction

The provincial authorities are currently compiling reports on drinking water extraction areas, setting out how they aim to safeguard ground water extraction and address existing problems and threats to quality. The measures will be incorporated in regional water plans, which cover all activities relating to water, as well as, for instance, municipal sewage plans and spatial plans.

Combating surface water contamination

Surface water is water from lakes and rivers. Water management bodies, i.e. Rijkswaterstaat and the water authorities, must ensure that surface water destined to become drinking water meets certain quality standards. To achieve this, they are implementing the measures agreed in ground water extraction area reports and laid down in regional water plans. The quality standards can be found in the Water Quality Requirements and Monitoring Decree 2009. International agreements (for instance, concerning the Rhine and Maas rivers) have also been made to reduce surface water contamination.

Provincial and municipal authorities also work to prevent surface water contamination, for instance by carrying out environmental checks in the shipping industry and minimising the risk of contamination during construction or maintenance work on bridges, locks and waterways.

Protecting sources of drinking water

In order to protect sources and strategic reserves of drinking water, the provincial authorities designate ground water extraction areas, where digging and drilling are restricted or banned. Provincial and municipal authorities must take account of these areas when drawing up other plans, such as land-use plans, and issuing environmental permits.

Central government is responsible for protecting strategic groundwater reserves of national importance. It is anticipated that 2015 will see the publication of the Policy Strategy on Use of the Underground Space, which will help the authorities make decisions about what underground activities are possible in which locations.

Keeping drinking water infrastructure in good condition

Drinking water companies must renew and replace drinking water infrastructure as and when needed, drawing up investment plans for this purpose. These must be approved by the provincial and municipal authorities before drinking water companies can put them into action.

Drinking water companies must also ensure a constant supply of drinking water, even in crises or contingencies, such as flooding. To this end, they draw up supply plans. These must be approved by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) before they can be implemented. The plans must be revised every four years.