|Main authors:||Peter Leendertse|
|Source document:||“Quick scan” for basic information on case studies, governance structures & multi- actor platforms. FAIRWAY Internal Report, 2017|
1. General context
The case study is located in the south of the Netherlands, in the province of Noord-Brabant. This province has an area of 4.919 km² and it is populated by 2.48 million inhabitants. The northern border follows the Meuse (Maas) river westward to its mouth in the Hollands Diep strait, part of the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta. The province of Brabant is important for the Dutch drinking water supply. Drinking water is produced from ground water that is abstracted from 39 locations in the province and annual production is 180 million m3 (http://www.brabantwater.nl/). In addition Brabant is part of the catchment area of the river Meuse. The surface water of the Meuse is a drinking water resource for 3 million people in the western part of the Netherlands. The abstraction sites for drinking water in Brabant vary in depth and vulnerability. The shallow and most vulnerable sites are surrounded by groundwater protection areas. Land use in these areas is a mixture of agriculture, nature and urban area.
2. The particular case of Noord-Brabant and its role in FAIRWAY
The case study focuses on reducing pesticide in current and future drinking water resources, in line with national and European regulations and laws. The monitoring program carried out by Brabant Water and the provincial authorities (of tap water, raw water and ground/surface water), shows that the use of pesticides is a threat to groundwater in 11 of the abstraction areas. Pesticides are used in agriculture, but also in urban areas. The strategy to produce high quality tap water revolves around prevention and (if necessary) water purification.
Guidance and support has been provided for farmers (for a number of years) to mitigate leaching of pesticides. Furthermore, both municipalities and civilians are supported to reduce the use of pesticides. Over 300 farmers and contractors are participating. These farmers and contractors are responsible for more than 4.000 ha of agricultural land, covering 85% of the total agricultural land in the groundwater protection areas.
3. Mitigation measures used
The farmers grow a variety of crops such as grass, maize, potatoes, sugar beets, trees and vegetables. A simple contract between farmers and the province is put in place. This contract includes an agreement on reduced use of pesticides. The farmers take measures and (try to) implement innovations and new techniques (new spraying techniques, low dose systems, mechanical weeding, warning systems, GPS). They choose pesticides with low environmental impact using the »Environmental Yardstick for Pesticides. The farmers also register their pesticide use. There is also urban involvement as municipalities have reduced their pesticide use to zero on hard surfaces and they aim to zero use in parks, sport pitches and golf areas.
Three key factors are used to stimulate the participation of all famers in this approach.
- Uptake of new techniques: Almost every farmer is interested in techniques. demonstrating new techiques and supporting farmers in buying new techniques is a key factor.
- Cooperation with the advisers who sell pesticides and minerals to the farmers: when the advice of these intermediates is in line with the goals of the drinking water company, a large group of farmers can be reached.
- Cooperation with the farmers contractors and supermarkets: this cooperation takes place with the contractors Bakker Barendrecht and Nedato, contractors for Ahold supermarket. When the demand of the supermarket is in line with the goals of the drinking water company, a large group of farmers can be reached.
Measures are proposed by crop advisers from Delphy and CLM and farmers. Endorsement of these measures is done through stakeholder consultation meetings. Measures are selected with the following criteria in mind:
- effectiveness in reducing the risk of pesticide leakage,
- easy to adopt,
- preferably win-win: delivering both water quality improvement and on-farm cost reduction or yield optimisation.
The support has led to positive results: the use of pesticides with a risk of leaching to groundwater and surface water has been reduced. However, continued guidance is necessary.
The main challenge in this case study within FAIRWAY is the analysis and evaluation of costs and benefits, the evaluation of the stability and sustainability of the current groundwater protection strategy, and stimulation of the involvement of supermarkets.
The main research questions to be addressed are:
- What are costs and benefits of the current groundwater protection strategy?
- What is the stability and sustainability of the current groundwater protection strategy?
- How can this be prolonged?
- How can stakeholders such as supermarkets be involved effectively?
- What is the effectiveness of the »Environmental Yardstick for Pesticides as a farm tool to reduce impact?
- What additional measures need to be taken to reach accepted levels in all crops?
If successful, it is hoped that the whole programme, or parts of it, could spread to other provinces or areas with water quality issues caused by agriculture.
4. Current water governance system
Actors and stakeholders involved in water governance and their roles
The following bodies are involved in water governance:
- Brabant Water (drinking water company), responsible for clean drinking water.
- Province of Brabant (regional authority), responsible for the groundwater quality.
- ZLTO (agricultural organisation), farmers need to follow the extra rules on pesticides in the protection areas.
- Cumela (organisation for agricultural contractors) contractors need to follow the extra rules on pesticides in the protection areas.
- Four waterboards (Dommel, Brabantse Delta, Aa en Maas, Rivierenland), responsible for the surface water quality
- 18 municipalities, they need to follow rules on pesticides (no use on hardened surface) and are stimulated to zero use in parks, sport pitches and golf areas.
Water quality control processes
Brabant Water drinking water company, four water boards and the provincial authorities decide whether or not there is an issue, based on their monitoring program. Measures are proposed by crop advisers from Delphy, CLM and farmers. Endorsement of these measures is done through stakeholder consultation meetings. Targets have been set by CLM on the basis of legal water quality norms and the »Environmental Yardstick for Pesticides . Water quality targets for current and future drinking water resouces are based on the national and European norms and laws. However, farm management targets applied in this case study area are additional to those.
Enforcement does not play a role as an instrument within the case study area, other than normal control on legal commands for farm management.
Engagement and multi-actor platforms
There is an already existing platform for engagement in the case study that will be considered as a MAP in FAIRWAY. The platform includes farmers advice company, regional government, water boards, drinking water company, farmers organisation, pesticide industry and farmers contractors. The following parties are involved:
- Brabant Water (drinking water company)
- Province of Brabant (regional authority)
- ZLTO (agricultural organisation)
- Cumela (organisation for agricultural contractors)
- Delphy (crop advisers)
- Four waterboards (Dommel, Brabantse Delta, Aa en Maas, Rivierenland)
- 18 municipalities
These stakeholders together discuss goals, monitoring, measurements for both inside and outside agriculture and evaluate them in stakeholder meetings. In the case study the stakeholders take part in analysis and evaluation of costs and benefits, in evaluation of the stability and sustainability of the current groundwater protection strategy, and in stimulation of the involvement of supermarkets. In the future new stakeholders, including supermarkets, will be involved.