Apr 9, 2022 3 min read

Too much, too little water

Thanks for joining.

For this issue, we have a short write-up by Joks Janssen who wrote a an interesting post on LinkedIn about drought and irrigation problems in a particular part of the Netherlands. We'll also read and watch our latest stories. Enjoy!

Aerial drone view of a sluice in the Netherlands. Screenshot film: Deltacommissaris

Too much, too little water

One day there is excess water 💦, on another there is a shortage — it happened in a span of a month. This is happening on the elevated sandy soils in the Netherlands, where water authorities are already worried about drought. It's a consequence of a water system that is still largely designed for rapid drainage.

This needs to be changed. In a sharp opinion, Dutch water expert Jos Peters (rightly) states that dehydration is certainly not only caused by a changing climate, but is also a direct consequence of the 'dewatering machine' that we have developed in over half a century.

"Straightening the watercourses made many floods a thing of the past, but droughts are a thing of the present. And because we dug so many ditches, their distances were halved. As a result, the soil does not hold water for four months, but only for four weeks".

According to Peters, the multitude of watercourses makes our sandy landscape very susceptible to drought. The Netherlands is like a colander, with too many large holes. 🪣

According to him, these holes should be closed quickly. In Peters' view, it is hardly about what we extract from the soil. It's about what we pump out in winter and spring, which lets water drain. If we want to make the landscape drought-proof, we have to retain the water longer.

Peters certainly has a point, but he ignores all too easily the contribution of groundwater extractions to the desiccation of the sandy landscape. They influence seepage flows and (depending on the water-carrying parcel) lower phreatic groundwater levels.

As Ruud Bartholomeus, Chief Science Officer at KWR Water, puts it: it's not a case of either/or, but of both: less extraction and more retention. Only then can we take serious steps towards a drought robust landscape!

The Netherlands is struggling with needless drought: our country is like a colander with too many holes.

Water Stories

Water Pollution: Solutions by understanding the local realities

Water Pollution: Solutions by understanding the local realities

For people living around Rawa Pening, one of the most polluted lakes in Indonesia, water hyacinths, and not plastics are the cause of worry. The problems of water pollution in the region can only be solved taking into consideration the priorities of locals, writes Engeline Kelderman.

Young Thai women advocate reusing agri-waste

Young Thai women advocate reusing agri-waste

Young women in Thailand create awareness about the ill effects of burning crop residue and slash-and-burn practice. They teach communities turn their agri-waste into compost to fertilise their farms. Their initiative prevents air pollution and greenhouse gas emission, besides the compost improving soil health.

Thai youth treat wastewater with spent coffee grounds

Thai youth treat wastewater with spent coffee grounds

Youth in Thailand, who are at the forefront of solving issues related to climate change, find a simple, sustainable solution for wastewater treatment. Their economical solution using spent coffee grounds to treat wastewater can easily be adopted by communities.

Video of the Week

Young Thai women advocate reusing agri-waste

Wrap up

Thanks for being here. As always, follow us at @Nextbluestories.

You can support us by becoming a paid member for $5!

Or, if you want to make a one-off donation, you can 'shout us a coffee' here.

Any questions? Hit reply and let me know.

See you next time,


Joep Janssen
Joep Janssen
Founder and editor-in-chief Nextblue
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Nextblue.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.