What are the consequences of increasing drought?

If the demand for water exceeds the supply, water shortage will ensue: insufficient water will be available to cater to all the functions. The impact of a water shortage will differ. The paragraphs below explain the regional differences and how drought will impact various sectors.

The Delta scenarios Swift, Steam, Warm and Spacious provide four future images of how water safety and other water challenges in the Netherlands may change. All four scenarios show that water challenges will increase considerably. Their severity depends largely on how much CO2 is emitted and how much the Dutch population and economy will grow.

Impact will differ from one area to the next

Not every location is equally vulnerable to the impact of drought. For example, differences can be observed between elevated and low-lying areas. The elevated sandy soils in the east and south of the Netherlands are prone to water shortages, as water supply from the rivers is limited here. In the low-lying western part of the Netherlands, groundwater levels are controlled through water level management. One of the consequences of drought in this area is a deteriorating water quality, e.g., as a result of salinisation. In areas with clay and peat soil, drought will primarily lead to soil subsidence, peat oxidation, and foundation issues. The Drought Chain will help you to gain more insight into the causes and effects of drought in a particular area.

Effects differ from one sector to the next

Drought can cause problems or damage in various sectors. For example, a drought-related shortage of cooling water can affect the industry and the power supply. It may suspend the entire production process. Low river water levels may obstruct inland shipping. Loading and unloading will be hampered, and shipping restrictions may be imposed. Other sectors may also sustain damage, e.g., cultural heritage. Falling groundwater levels may cause damage to historic greenery, such as avenues and parks. Furthermore, soil subsidence may cause historic buildings to subside and crack. The “It is becoming drier” conceptual diagram of the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) provides an overview of how increased drought will impact the various sectors. Use the NAS Adaptation Tool to compile your own drought conceptual diagram.

Tools to map effects

Drought has many different causes and effects, which makes it a complicated issue. To arrive at solutions, we must first gain insight into the various causes, effects, and their interrelationships. The Drought Chain is a helpful tool in this respect. For each sector, this visualisation shows the potential impact of drought and what is causing that impact. Would you like to have a single overview of how drought will impact the various sectors? Then use the “It is becoming drier” conceptual diagram of the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS). The NAS Adaptation Tool can be used to make your own drought conceptual diagram.