Theme: Abstraction

Our water sources are our most important assets as a water company. Without a reliable water source, high-quality drinking water is impossible. The quality and availability depend on how we and other stakeholders treat(ed) our water sources and the environment in the areas where water is abstracted. Both above- and underground. We want to limit our spatial claim as much as possible, without taking irresponsible risks.

Motive for more research

Decline in groundwater quality
In general, the quality of groundwater in the Netherlands has declined in the previous century, mainly due to human influences such as agricultural effects, (veterinary) medicines and urban soil contamination. There is also an increased influence of surface water.

Spatial pressure
Available space is becoming more restricted. In some cases, this leads to competition between different parties when it comes to the use of that space. Apart from groundwater, the subsoil offers possibilities for geothermal energy and thermal energy storage systems. In social assignments such as energy transition, this may cause conflicting interests. The same applies to agricultural activities in rural areas, where the use of various fertilisers can adversely affect drinking water quality.

Soil processes
More precipitation, higher temperatures, and more evaporation; these are the prospects of the future. They influence the physical, biological and chemical processes in the soil. Because of the influence of climate change, the quality and quantity of both groundwater and surface water are changing.

Objectives of this research theme

  • A resilient use of our water sources and a durable interaction with the environment;
  • Insight into required production, costs and risks per source, and how these can be optimized and managed together (now and in the future);
  • A future-proof protection policy with which we can protect abstractions against risks sufficiently, but not more than necessary.


The soil as filter 0
The goal of this work package is to monitor changes in the quality of groundwater at an early stage, based on insights into (cyclic) processes in the soil, and utilising the soil as a first purification stage. For this we study techniques that can be used for this purpose, such as early-warning systems, satellite imagery, use of sensors, and modelling.

Managing risks
The goal of this work package is to gain insight into the (prospective) effects of agriculture, surface water, and soil energy systems on the abstraction of water, and to find effective ways to deal with those effects. We want to be adaptive if possible, preventive when necessary.

Future-proof protection
The goal of this work package is the development of a risk-driven protection policy (partly through hydrological modelling), with which we limit our spatial claim while contributing to other assignments for safeguarding the abstraction of water in the long term.

Questions, recommendations or advice?

Theme ambassador Anne Immers can be contacted through

Projects within Abstraction