Successful stakeholder workshop in Belgium
On December 6th, a stakeholder workshop for all Belgian stakeholders involved in water quality and agriculture was organised at the offices of Inagro in Beitem (B). The main theme of the meeting was water governance: what are the success factors, and what are the constraints to involve stakeholders and reach a better water quality? During a field trip in the afternoon, the participants visited the local water production centre in Zillebeke and went into the fields to discover some local best management practices and mitigation measures.
The day started with a short presentation of the WaterProtect project by the project coordinator, Piet Seuntjens (VITO). Els Belmans from ILVO continued with a presentation on water governance. Then, the governance approach in the Belgian, Irish and Danish Action Lab were presented by the respective action lab leaders.
After these presentations, ideas on water governance were exchanged in discussion groups. Each discussion group dealt with a different topic: How can we involve the different stakeholders? Which incentives exist or can improve the water quality? What economic incentives can be used/developed? And what can we do in the Belgian Action Lab in particular?
The diversity of the participating stakeholders and the presence of partners from other Action Labs resulted in many valuable ideas on water governance, which can be further investigated in the WaterProtect project.
The afternoon field trip to the Belgian Action Lab Bollaertbeek started with a visit of the drinking water production centre of Zillebeke, where drinking water is produced from the Bollaertbeek catchment. Unfortunately the water production centre was not in operation, a consequence of the extreme drought that hit Belgium since the last summer. Nevertheless it was interesting for the participants to see the different treatment and purification steps to make drinking water from the Bollaertbeek water.
The bus then went into the local Bollaertbeek fields to show some of the measures to prevent water pollution by crop protection products that were implemented or will be implemented in the near future.
A grass buffer strip near the Bollaertbeek was visited, followed by green cover crops. Both measures prevent runoff and erosion of crop protection products.
Then, the importance of a safe filling and cleaning place was explained to prevent point pollution of crop protection products. Existing remnant water purification systems were also showed. The next stop during the field visit was a monitoring location, where a continuous sampling installation was demonstrated and the procedure of the sampling campaign by WaterProtect was explained.
The field trip ended at a local farm, where the participants got a presentation of the WaterProtect app, a collaborative tool that shows the water quality monitoring results in an easy and user friendly way. The discussion were the informal discussion were continued while enjoying one of the local farm desserts.