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Report on water reserves and waterways in Wallonia

The Wallonia government published a press realease regarding the water reserves and waterways status in Wallonia, Belgium.

The Drought Expertise Unit, bringing together the various interlocutors of the water sector in Wallonia (representatives of the relevant services of the SPW, Aquawal and the players in the production and distribution of drinking water), met on 18 August under under the aegis of the Wallonia Regional Crisis Center to take stock of the drought situation in Wallonia.

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1. Precipitation and drought index

Since the previous meeting on August 12, rainfall has been very low and very localized in Wallonia. Average rainfall in Wallonia is around 8-9 mm cumulative (against 4 mm on average last week). The next 10 days should bring us to an extremely dry scenario as rainfall will remain low and not likely to alleviate the drought situation.

2. Watercourses and dams-reservoirs

The levels of the dams-reservoirs continue to decrease. The levels for the Gileppe and the Vesdre are just above the reserve levels. Monitoring of the level of the Nisramont dam continues given the low inflows due to the severe low water level of the Ourthe and the decrease in the level of the lake. The measures relating to the limitation of refunds therefore remain in force.

The flows of the navigable rivers continue to fall and are comparable to those of 1976 and 2020 (extremely dry years).

For non-navigable waterways, the rainfall on August 17 caused a slight increase, but the effect is already fading. The most critical situation is on the Ourthe where the readings are the lowest since the 1976 readings. The Amblève is following the same trend as the Ourthe.

3. Groundwater

The situation remains similar to the findings of previous meetings. Some water bodies remain within the 2017 and 2020 values.

4. Water production and distribution

Currently, 19 municipalities have issued police orders restricting the consumption of mains water: Stoumont, Burg Reuland, Rochefort, Durbuy, Libin, Libramont, Chimay, Theux, Bouillon, Léglise, Habay, Pepinster, Vresse-sur- Semois, Tellin, Bertogne, Tenneville, Gouvy, Amel and Saint-Hubert. Other municipalities are subject to special monitoring by the SWDE (Jalhay, Vielsalm, Houffalize, Bastogne, Fauvillers, Martelange, Neufchâteau, Vaux-sur-Sûre, Saint-Ode, Wellin, Bullange, Marche- en-Famenne, Rendeux, La Roche-en-Ardenne and Beauraing).

A particular point of attention, in collaboration with the SWDE and the services concerned, will continue to be brought to Rochefort and Libramont via the continuation of the meetings of the specific working groups.

Apart from the municipalities mentioned above, production-distribution normally takes place everywhere else. Considering the current situation and the trends for the next few days, and to avoid any difficulty in production or distribution in certain areas, it is recommended a reasonable use of mains water. This is a collective responsibility, addressed not only to citizens but also to all stakeholders in society. It is advisable to avoid or postpone non-essential uses such as washing cars, watering lawns and plantations, non-essential cleaning of floors (sidewalks, terraces, etc.).

5. Browsing

For navigation, the measure of regrouping of boats at the locks remains in place on the entire network with the exception of the Scheldt (lower part), the Dender and the canals of the province of Hainaut.

With regard to hydroelectric production for micro-power plants, the ministerial decree suspending all hydroelectricity production on Hoyoux, Burnot and Lhomme remains in effect until further notice.

All sections are currently closed to kayak traffic. Only a section of the Amblève opened on August 18 following the release of the Warche dams.

6. Forest and fishing

The Nature and Forests Department (DNF) maintains its awareness, prevention and surveillance actions. Currently, there are no site closures by the DNF. Only the roads crossing the forest of Anlier are subject to a ban (see map - the site circled in red is completely closed) since August 17 and until further notice for all users (cars, walkers, riders, cyclists, etc.) except the rights holders.

Regarding fishing, the prohibition measures are maintained until September 4. To find out which areas are affected by the ban, by sub-basin, see the Maison de la Pêche website.

7. Agriculture

The current drought is worsening crop conditions. The grasslands are in a significant state of disrepair. Maize is showing increasing signs of drought impact through leaf curling and drying. The condition of potatoes and beans requires special monitoring.

8. Water quality and authorized bathing areas

For authorized bathing areas: 3 bathing areas are closed: Lac de Neufchâteau for bacteria problems, Lac de Falemprise due to cyanobacteria, Lac de Bambois since August 18. These situations are not exceptional this season.

More info via the link

With regard to unofficial bathing areas, the current low flows observed throughout Wallonia favor the concentration of pollutants, which can lead to the proliferation of algae and pathogenic bacteria. Significant vigilance and caution must therefore be exercised over the next two weeks, throughout Wallonia, and in particular during recreational activities in rivers and canals, as well as for watering livestock and domestic animals.

The Regional Drought Expertise Unit meets under the aegis of the Regional Crisis Center (CRC-W). It brings together the various interlocutors of the water sector in Wallonia: representatives of the relevant services of the Public Service of Wallonia, Aquawal and players in the production and distribution of drinking water.

Source: Wallonia Government

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