March 4, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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This is the wettest year on record: ‘There is almost no space left to store water’

This is the wettest year on record: ‘There is almost no space left to store water’

We still have one last rainy week to go, but 2023 is already the wettest year on record. So far, 1,126 mm of rain has fallen across the country, breaking the record set in 1998. Then 1,109 mm of rain fell. All this rain has not yet caused major problems in Brabant, but the Aa en Maas Water Board has to work hard to keep it that way.

Profile photo of member Floortje Steigenga

In recent years, we have been inundated with reports of drought. In 2018, 500 mm of rain fell in Brabant and last year 650 mm. But this year nearly twice as much rain fell. “This is really extreme,” says Jose Cruet of the water board.

“Supplies are important, but the water is now very high.”

All this rain is causing nuisance in people’s homes. “We’ve been getting a lot of reports of flooded crawl spaces and basements since October,” Kruit says. “People are shocked by this because they’ve never experienced it before. This has to do with very high groundwater levels and basements that are not waterproof.”

You could say that it is possible to collect surplus rain for use in times of drought. But unfortunately, it’s not that easy, as Gus explains. “Groundwater supplies are important. But now the water is very high. Maybe a little too high. In Brabant there is almost no room left to store groundwater.”

However, there is no reason to panic yet. Water from the Dommel River and the Aa River can still flow into the Maas River, because there is no high water there yet. “If that happens, we still have several water storage areas around Den Bosch that could be temporarily flooded to store excess water,” says Goss.

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“That is why we will have to give more space to water in the future.”

Wearing sturdy tracksuits, he walks through a marshy nature reserve in Middleroad, which has been flooded by the Aa overflowing its banks. But that’s allowed here, Kruyt says. “We call this a dynamic stream valley. Here we consciously give water space.”

It is expected that more and more extremism will emerge in the future. “We have had a huge drought for the last three years. Now it is very wet. That is why we will have to give more space to water for this purpose, as is the case in this dynamic river valley. This is a big task that will take many years, but we have already started it.”

People at home can also take steps to prepare for more heavy rains in the future. “Make sure your basements are waterproof. Disconnect the downspout and let it flow into the garden, then put a rain barrel in during dry times and make sure the water doesn’t flow into the sewer.”

The Aa has burst its banks near Middlerode, but that's not a problem here (Photo: Floortje Steigenga).
The Aa has burst its banks near Middlerode, but that’s not a problem here (Photo: Floortje Steigenga).