Water Quality In Belgium
A key indicator of the economic prosperity of a nation is the water quality. In first world countries such as the U.S., Canada and most of Western Europe, citizens can drink tap water without any concerns about getting a water-borne illness. One must contrast this to many developing nations where drinking water from their water systems without purification first could potentially be fatal.

Originally a part of the Netherlands, Belgium gained its independence in 1830. Currently, Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy, which also utilizes a parliamentary system to deal with the day-to-day legislation of running the country. Due to its parliamentary system allowing citizens to have input in what the government does, the water quality in Belgium is very high compared to even first world countries such as the U.S.

A majority of the 589 municipalities in Belgium have programs in place run by their local governance responsible for maintaining the water supply and water quality. Also, Belgium has more than 62 water supply utilities throughout the country.

On top of this, Belgium also has 100 small municipalities that are privately owned that help improve the water supply. This combination of private and public water sanitation allows for the free market to help lower prices for clean water without forgoing having a governmental backup in case the free market fails. All three of these programs is one reason for the high water quality in Belgium.

Although the water quality in Belgium is high enough for its citizens to drink tap water without any ill health effects, the wastewater treatment in the country has lagged behind. In fact, wastewater sanitation did not start to get addressed within the country until 2007 after the European Court of Justice forced the Belgian government to make changes in 2004.

Wallonia, a region of Belgium, supplies 55% of the national need for water while it only contains 37% of the countries population. This fact becomes an issue due to the fact that Flanders and Brussels both rely on water from Wallonia. Flanders and Brussels rely on receiving clean water from Wallonia, 40%, and 98%, respectively.

Although there are present issues with wastewater sanitation in the country, the Belgian government has made strides in the past decade in improving its water supply after the court ruling in 2004.

The high water quality in Belgium is one reason why living in the nation is so desirable. One other reason is that the Belgian sanitation departments in the Belgian government recognize the importance of the fundamental right to water.

To help all citizens be able to achieve access to clean water, the Walloon and Brussels regions have set up a program to provide economic support for individuals who have trouble obtaining drinking water. This fund is called The Social Funds for Water, and through this organization, citizens in those regions of Belgium have had their access to water increase dramatically. In addition to this program, every citizen in Flanders has the right to a supply of 15 cubic meters of water per person per year in the country.

The high water quality in Belgium is something the international community should applaud. Every citizen has a right to access clean water, and both the private and public sectors strive to make sure this can happen. Although the country has issues with wastewater sanitation, great strides have been made to improve the water sanitation systems in the country better since the court ruling in 2004. The water quality in Belgium is something all nations strive to achieve, not only due to its quality but because every citizen has the right to drink clean water.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr