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Growing interest in the business community in water quality

Water quality has been attracting lots of media attention lately. The business community is also expressing growing interest in water-quality issues. It is asking questions like: ‘What do these media reports mean for the quality of drinking water?’ and ‘Will there be enough good quality water available in the future?’ On 29 May, during an information afternoon on water quality for business customers, Milou Dingemans (KWR) and Jeroen Castelijns (Brabant Water) responded to these questions. The event took place at Brabant Water’s production site in Veghel.

Water quality up to the source

Milou Dingemans, a KWR toxicologist, spoke about water quality right up to the water source. At KWR she assesses the potential health risks of substances that are relevant to the watercycle. She explained how the risks presented by substances in water are studied and the methods involved. Making use of an example, she showed what happens with new substances that are detected in water, and how toxicological risk assessment is applied to determine whether the concentrations found are potentially harmful to humans. She also spoke about innovative methods, such as effect-measurements using biological test systems (bioassays).

Water quality from the source

Jeroen Castelijns, Section Leader, Adviescentrum Waterwinning & Grondstoffen, of Brabant Water, then spoke about the company’s drinking water sources. He explained that the (drinking) water in North Brabant comes from protected subsurface aquifers. Most of this water has been in the aquifers for more than 100 years, indeed some of it for up to 1000 years: a time before humans started using chemicals in the environment. This makes the groundwater a very reliable raw water source. Castelijns showed how each source has its own tailored monitoring programme. A key component is an extensive groundwater monitoring network, which is used to make periodic quality measurements at different levels in the subsurface.

Customer reactions

The reactions of customers attending the event reflected their growing interest in water-quality issues. Henk Willems, Senior Advisor, Bouw & Techniek, at the Maasziekenhuis Pantein hospital said: ‘It is important to keep water clean for the environment and into the future. It’s great that you monitor its quality so well.’ Yvonne de Rooij, Quality Engineer at Borgesius (formerly Bakkersland), noted: ‘Water is the most important thing we have. Our bakery requires high-quality water since it’s the key ingredient in our dough. That’s why it was also lovely to see a wall painting in the old pump building that depicted bread.’ Cas Wilting, Coordinator, Water Treatment, at Peka Kroef, also reacted to the meeting: ‘Water quality is important to Peka Kroef. What I learned this afternoon about water treatment and softening in pellet reactors was extremely interesting.’