Dutch water sector
Who does what
In the Netherlands various organisations ensure there is sufficient clean drinking water. In addition to the water companies, the national government and provinces also contribute to the drinking water supply. Each party has its own task.
Ten Dutch water companies ensure that reliable drinking water flows from the tap 24 hours a day. The water companies extract water from the ground, rivers, canals and lakes, purify it and make sure that it flows to the customer. A constant supply is guaranteed. The water companies are responsible for management and quality of all pipes up to the home water meter. Home owners are responsible for the state of the water supply lines in the home. It is safe to say that the distribution network of the Dutch drinking water sector is in excellent working order. Leakage losses remain below 6% while in other European countries this is often 12% or higher.
The Association of Dutch Water Companies (Vewin) represents practically the entire Dutch (drinking) water sector (ten water companies). As a line organisation Vewin contributes to its members achieving their strategic goals.
The national government creates the conditions for the water companies to supply high quality drinking water. The Water Supply Act and the corresponding Decree on the Water Supply establish the conditions to be met. Regional inspectors of the Ministry of VROM monitor health aspects and hygiene. Extraction of groundwater has to be licensed by the provinces. The national government draws up policy, the provincial government is responsible for implementing this in measures and plans. The regional VROM inspectors guard the health aspects, hygiene and supply security of Dutch drinking water.
Provinces and Department of Public Works and Water Management
The policy as formulated by national government is converted into orders and plans by the provincial government. The province is responsible for the layout and content of the systems to protect groundwater in close consultation with the water companies. The Department of Public Works and Water Management manages Dutch surface water which is also important for the drinking water supply, such as the IJsselmeer, and the rivers Rhine and Maas. The other waters come under the responsibility of the provinces and waterboards. They normally delegate these tasks to regional water boards.
The water boards (or District Water Control Boards) together with the Department of Public Works and Water Management are responsible for the quality and quantity of regional water in the Netherlands. The water boards monitor physical water levels in their region and discharge water if necessary. They also treat waste water, control the quality of surface water and physically maintain waterways and canals. Water companies and water boards work together in some regions as both benefit from clean ground, clean rivers and canals. The umbrella organisation of the water boards is the Association of Dutch Water Boards (Unie van Waterschappen).
Municipalities play an important role in urban water management. They are responsible for collecting and discharging waste water via the sewer system and the laying out of the urban and surrounding areas.