Good water quality in the docks is important – not just for the fauna and flora, but for the surrounding companies too. They use the water from the docks in their production process, for cleaning tanks and so on. We follow the norms established in the Flemish government's Integrated Water Policy to assess the water quality. We measure the chemical and physico-chemical water quality. The total water consumption is also monitored.

 

Physico-chemical water quality

We look at six parameters to assess the physico-chemical quality of the water:

  • temperature
  • dissolved oxygen
  • acidity level
  • chloride
  • total nitrogen
  • total phosphorus

The dock water meets the Environmental Quality Norm (EQN) for temperature, dissolved oxygen and acidity level. Good to know: for the dissolved oxygen parameter, the EQN is a lower bound; the results must not be below this.

 

Later on in dry summers, we do not meet the EQN for chloride, because insufficient fresh water is supplied during long dry periods.

 

We have not met the EQN for the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus since we began our measurements. However, a large proportion of the nutrients are supplied via upstream waterways, and therefore arise from agriculture rather than port activities. The Flemish government is taking measures such as the Fertiliser Action Plan and the Programmatic Approach to Nitrogen (PAN) to tackle the problem of nutrients in surface water at the source.

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Dissolved oxygen (mg/L)

 

 

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Chloride (mg/L)

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Total nitrogen (mg/L)

Chemical water quality

We evaluate ten parameters for monitoring the chemical water quality of the dock water: 

  • Cadmium,
  • mercury,
  • arsenic,
  • boron,
  • uranium,
  • tributyltin (TBT)
  • and 4 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

 

We can identify three parameters (arsenic, boron and uranium) that are exceeding the annual average norm.

 

Some of these parameters also have a maximum norm.  We are only exceeding this maximum norm for TBT.  The TBT issue directly related to the water bed. The soil section explains that the removal of dredgings containing TBT has been going on since 2020 and will lead to improved water quality over time.

 

2021 will also see the launch of a pilot project involving smart sensors for measuring water quality.

An extra measurement location was also created, which means we are now monitoring water quality in the port docks at four locations every month.

 

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©Bron: Vlaamse Milieumaatschappij

Water consumption

In 2019, the port and all its companies consumed 1,700 million m³ of water (pipeline and surface water). In 2020, the water consumption was 1,900 million m³. This is a slight fall compared to consumption in 2017 and 2018. This is largely due to the drop in surface water consumption.

 

The majority of the surface water used (more than 90%) is coolant water for the Doel nuclear power station. This is water from the Scheldt that is mainly discharged back again after use.

 

Heat and drought at the port

The Port Authority's ambition is to make the port area climate-adaptive in order to deal with the increasing heat and drought better. In practice, we are doing so by setting up a number of test projects, for example at Goordijk Car Park where we are aiming to limit the high consumption of drinking water, or at the Van Cauwelaert Lock buildings where we are experimenting with green roofs.

In addition, we are working on an updated rainwater and sewerage policy for the port area. Research will show what the possibilities are here for reusing rainwater, infiltrating it, buffering it, etc.

We are also guaranteeing that the dock level remains sufficiently high using an automated model and via study and research work. Finally, we are raising the efficiency of water consumption in industry (reduce, reuse and replace) through the “Water React Tool”, a digital tool for closing water circuits.