Lies Verstraete on the importance of the TOPSOIL project
Coordinating coastal areas
Speaking on behalf of the Belgian stakeholders in TOPSOIL is Lies Verstraete, basin coordinator for the Yser Basin (Belgium). Her work includes local stakeholder meetings in the western coastal area of Belgium, in search of joint solutions for water-related challenges, such as flooding, drought and water quality. Each aspect can influence the other.
“During long periods of drought, the polder streams can become saline. With our changing climate, this forms a real risk for our coastal areas, particularly for agriculture and drinking water”, Lies explains. “The TOPSOIL project has provided real insights into how we can increase the availability of freshwater in these areas.”
The map of saline areas has been updated during the project, with the help of Danish partners, and this now provides more accurate information in terms of where shallow pockets of salt water can be found. ”Using this updated map, we can determine the most suitable locations to replenish groundwater reserves in the winter for use in the summer season,” Lies adds.
Within TOPSOIL, research is also being carried out into to the possibilities of infiltration in sandy soils, so that water can be filtered to use as drinking water for cattle, for example. The project has also contributed valuable insights in terms of fine-tuning water-level management in the coastal polders of Belgium and signalling suitable zones for controlled drainage.
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