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.

Work packages

Theme Abstraction has the following work packages:

Abstraction techniques

Developing – and gaining insight into – innovative winning techniques. Projects in this work package are operation-driven and aimed at (rapid) implementation. The focus is on the drinking water well.

Soil and Groundwater Information

Gain insight into trends by developing innovative measuring techniques and increasing our soil knowledge. The focus is on both the soil and the groundwater (quantity and quality). The aim of this work package is to identify developments in groundwater quality and groundwater availability based on insight into soil (cycle) processes and soil structure (water system as a whole). To this end, we conduct research into techniques such as ‘early warning’ systems, satellite, sensoring and modeling that we can use for this purpose.

Source concepts

Improving the integration of our production facilities into their environment. Assignments for this work package are risk & opportunity driven. We are looking for the possibility to make connections between our own tasks (for example, a clean source, protection or flexible extraction concepts) and other social tasks (for example, energy transition or climate adaptation) in order to enter into a sustainable collaboration with our environment and in this way our to increase resilience.

Questions, recommendations or an advice?
Theme ambassador Ate Oosterhof is available via