Preferential Strategy for the Elevated Sandy Soils

The Elevated Sandy Soils are prone to drought, a situation which is occurring increasingly frequently. This has a structural impact on groundwater and surface water. This means that measures to improve freshwater availability are vitally important. The year 2018 demonstrated how much damage extreme drought can cause, particularly in the agriculture and horticulture sectors. It also has a negative impact on nature and on water quality in nature reserves and brooks. 2019 and 2020 were also extremely dry. At the same time, parts of the Elevated Sandy Soils are prone to waterlogging. Consequently, proper coordination of the various measures is important.

The Preferential Strategy for the Elevated Sandy Soils involves a long-term approach (2050); for the short term, the Strategy is substantiated with a programme of specific measures (2022-2027). Wherever possible, the freshwater supply and spatial adaptation measures are intertwined.

Active groundwater management

The essence of the Preferential Strategy is active groundwater management. Specific measures will enable the area to utilise the available water more efficiently, as stated in one of the recommendations of the Drought Policy Platform. Active groundwater management can be effected in several ways, such as regulating water supply to supplement groundwater in winter; water retention in local water systems and in farmland soil; and spatial adaptation to raise groundwater levels and supplement groundwater. Other options are rainwater infiltration in urban areas and the reuse of water by farmers, businesses, and residents.

Interconnected measures

A second element of the Preferential Strategy is its integrated approach. The freshwater supply measures are linked to spatial taskings relating to, e.g., agriculture, nature, and the economy, and to the other water and climate taskings. Over recent years, it has become increasingly clear that the impact of extreme weather on the Elevated Sandy Soils necessitates such an interconnected approach. For example, the regional administrative consultative bodies of Limburg and Noord-Brabant decided in 2020 to endorse a single strategy covering both freshwater supply and climate adaptation. This is outlined in the South Netherlands Climate Adaptation Implementation Programme. In the eastern region, the Strategy also involves close coordination between the freshwater supply tasking and the measures relating to spatial adaptation.
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