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Life support functions of the soil: operationalisation for biodiversity policy

Life support functies van de bodem: operationalisering t.b.v. het biodiversiteitsbeleid


Research into water consumption by various consumer categories is at present being carried out to support and sustain implementation of the governmental policy . In this overview of the results of water abstraction analyses and demand in the Netherlands, emphasis has been put on quantitative aspects. In general terms, water use can be divided into consumptive uses, of which a significant share of total supply does not return directly to its source (i.e. household, industry, agriculture) and non-consumptive uses, of which practically the entire volume returns to surface water or groundwater (e.g. cooling). In 1996 around 12,000,000,000 m3 groundwater and surface water were abstracted. Of the total abstracted water, around 54% was fresh and the rest was brackish/saline water. Of the total brackish/saline water, 70% was used as cooling water for electricity plants; this figure was 40% for fresh (surface) water. The total abstracted fresh groundwater in the Netherlands has been used for public water supply (69%), industry (15%), small businesses (4%) and agriculture (12%, mostly for sprinkling). Measured as specific water demand (litres per capita per day), domestic water use has increased. This happened especially between 1960 and 1975 (at 108 litres per capita per day). Since about 1990 it has decreased. In 1995 the level was 138 litres per cap. per day. Forecasts indicate a continuing population growth. Specific water demand is expected to decline; however, this decline will be relatively small in the first ten years, reflecting the use of more water-saving appliances. Up to now industrial water demand was shown in relation to industrial production. The strong economic growth after 1960 introduced an increased water demand up to 1975. Stricter controls and charges on effluents encouraged industries to reduce water demand. Forecasting industrial water is done on the basis of results from several branches of industry (e.g. paper) and the scenarios for the production level. The future production level of existing plants is taken from an economic model of the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. All scenarios show a growth in the industrial water demand. Agricultural uses of water refer only to water supplied by the public water companies and direct water supply from groundwater abstraction, especially for sprinkling systems. Public water supply is important for cleaning some kinds of equipment (health aspects) and for livestock, although this use is expected to decrease in volume and time due to diminishing livestock numbers.

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