Texel Fresh Future project officially launched

On Friday, 28 August 2020, a festive gathering and the drawing of the first drain marked the official launch of the “Texel Fresh Future” project. The project partners, Delta Programme Commissioner Peter Glas, and several media representatives were present at one of the project locations on the island of Texel.

Cees Loggen, member of the Noord-Holland Provincial Executive and Chairman of the Wadden Fund, gave the official starting signal for the project by drawing the first drain at one of the project sites. Delta Programme Commissioner Peter Glas had the honour of pouring the first fresh water into the subsoil storage. The farmers on this Wadden island are thus taking a significant step towards self-sufficiency in terms of freshwater supply. And that is sorely needed, because for the third year in a row, the farmers have been faced with a prolonged period of drought and a ban on irrigation. Water storage in winter must provide a solution. Over the next three years, the “Texel Fresh Future” project will be field-testing this concept at two locations.

Arnold Langeberg, Chairman of the Noord Texel division of the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture, farmer and initiator of the project: ‘In fact, we have been ready to go for years and we are proud that this moment has finally come. Freshwater storage is vitally important for the farmers of Texel, in order to have a sufficient supply of water for their crops at any time. The annual water requirement for the farming sector on the island of Texel totals 6 to 7 million cubic metres. This means that we must strive to retain 15 per cent of our total water supply. This is a challenge we are happy to meet on Texel!’.

Working together in pursuit of a “fresh future”

A busy schedule took those present on a journey of the project: from an idea among the farmers of Texel to the development of the eventual project plan and the ambition of the farmers to be self-sufficient in terms of freshwater supply. Each of the speakers expressed the motivation to work together, especially after this dry summer, on a “fresh future”.

Delta Programme Commissioner Peter Glas: ‘Texel is, in fact, a miniature version of the Netherlands, yet a Netherlands that we actually do not hope to experience. If the rivers Meuse or Rhine were to run dry temporarily, we would be faced with a reality such as has been the case here on Texel for years, the reality of water shortage. Here on the island of Texel, concerted efforts are being expended to combat such a shortage. This sets an example for the rest of the Netherlands – an example well worth viewing.’

The power of fresh water

In a panel discussion, Tine te Winkel (water economist, Acacia Water), Siem Jan Schenk (administrator of the Hollands Noorderkwartier district water control board), Mayor Uitdehaag of Texel, and Arnold Langeveld (Noord Texel division of the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture) reviewed the power of fresh water.

Mayor Uitdehaag emphasised the unique nature of the initiative, which started from the bottom: 'On Texel, we are used to having ideas originate from society, but this is something we can truly be proud of.' Tine te Winkel addressed the financial perspective: ‘I foresee a bright financial future for subsoil storage. This project boasts all the components to successfully pursue such goals. And if, in addition to looking ahead, you also look back to the past, you will see that at one time or another, we have managed to make solar panels, the telephone, and the portable CD player cost-effective. We can be equally successful with subsoil storage.'